World Politics

Recalling the India-China war that began on this day that year

Much has been said about India-China war of 1962 especially during recent ‘Doklam’ standoff between two countries but not many would know that it was on October 20 of that year when a full fledged war broke out between the two large neighbors. This was when the Chinese army or more specifically People’s Liberation Army of China crossed over into Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh (then known as the North East Frontier Agency).

With a three-week ceasefire, the war lasted till November 21, when China unilaterally withdrew from Indian territories before the snow could block safe passage to its forces. Around 3,250 Indian soldiers were killed. India lost about 43,000 square kilometres of land, captured by China in Aksai Chin. It is of the size of Switzerland.

The 55th anniversary of the India-China war has a shadow of Doklam stand-off hovering over it. The anniversary is also significant in the view of the the CPC Congress, underway in China, where President Xi Jinping has emerged as the most powerful leader of the country in its history. He is said to be the first President of China to have effective control over its armed forces – not even Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping enjoyed unchallenged say over the PLA.

INDIA-CHINA RELATION BEFORE WAR

The Himalayas served as frontiers between India and its northern neighbours for centuries. But, with India inheriting boundary demarcations from the British and China being occupied by the Communist forces in late 1940s changed the equations on the ground.

After the annexation of Tibet by the PLA, China proclaimed that the entire Himalayan region was part of its sovereign territory. It refused to acknowledge the sanctity of the McMohan Line separating India from China in the east. It also laid claims on parts of Jammu and Kashmir. But, the two countries signed what is known as Panchsheel or Five Principles agreement.

The Panchsheel was enunciated in the preamble to the Agreement (with exchange of notes) on trade and intercourse between Tibet Region of China and India. It was signed at Peking on April 29, 1954.

On July 1, 1954, former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru stated in a note, “All our old maps dealing with the frontier should be carefully examined, and where necessary, withdrawn. New maps should be printed showing our northern and northeastern frontier without any reference to any ‘line’. These new maps should also not state there is any undemarcated territory.”

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