NOTES: This was created from a rather poorly formatted copy found on GlobalSecurity.org – the original PDF could not be found on the net with a cursory search. A quick study of the copy shows numerous errors resulting from a quick run through a rather poor OCR program with no attempt to check for or correct OCR errors.
SUBJECT AREA Warfighting
Author: CALVIN, James Barnard, Lieutenant Commander, U. S. Navy
Title: THE CHINA-INDIA BORDER WAR (1962)
Publisher: Marine Corps Command and Staff College
Date: April 1984
The object of this paper is to present an overview of the 1962 China-India Border War. The paper chronologically examines the 19th and 20th Century roots of disputed border areas between China and Indian the increase in tensions and conflicts in the late 1950s, the skirmishes along the China-India border, the October-November 1962 hostilities, and the ceasefire.
The roots of the Border War extend back into the 19th Century, when both China and British India asserted claims to desolate, remote mountain areas between China and India. Military expeditions, intrigue and unproductive diplomatic exchanges marked decades of relations between the two countries. Rather than resolving the border issue, Chinese and British Indian actions only set the stage for conflict.
Major changes in the governments of both China and India in the late 1940s had brought the two countries to friendly relations in the early 1950s. The paper examines how "intrusions"--strategic military projections into each others claimed territory--again created conflict over the disputed border areas. The key issue was the 1956-57 construction of a Chinese military highway in the disputed territory of Aksai China just west of Tibet. India protested the Chinese "incursion"; diplomatic exchanges continued for three years without progress or compromise. Each side firmly asserted its claim to the Aksai Chin area. Large sections of the North East Frontier Agency, east of Tibet, were also in dispute. In 1959, India initiated a forward policy of sending Indian troops and border patrols into disputed areas. This program created both skirmishes and deteriorating relations between India and China. The 1961 Indian invasion of Portugese Goa further alarmed Chinese officials in Peking.
The paper examines the state of the Chinese and Indian armies. In 1962, China was strong and well-prepared for alpine warfare; India was logistically weak and unprepared.
The paper next examines the conduct of the Border War. The war began with skirmishes in the summer of 1962. The significant fighting occurred in October and November, 1962, along three widely separated fronts. In virtually every battled the Chinese forces either outmaneuvered or overpowered the unprepared Indians. In less than six weeks of bloody fighting, the Chinese completely drove Indian forces back behind Chinese claim lines.
The paper outlines the November 21, 1962 ceasefire, which the Chinese dramatically declared after achieving her limited strategic objectives. Following the ceasefire, China kept most of her claim in Aksai Chin but gave India virtually all of India's claim in the North East Frontier Agency--about 70% of the disputed land!
Finally, the paper evaluates the outcomes and lessons of the China-India Border War. Significant lessons included: (Prime Minister Nehru's) rigid adherence to assumptions, (Nehru's) unwise practice of ignoring advice of senior army officers, India's poor state of readiness both logistically and for alpine warfare, and India's underestimation of intelligence. Outcomes of the Border War included modernization of the Indian army, the roots of the 1965 India-Pakistan Border War, and realization of China's limited strategic objectives--the limited nature of which was again seen in the 1979 China-Viet Nam Border War.
Because of the difficulty in obtaining primary source documents, especially Chinese primary source documents, the paper relies on secondary source accounts of both causation and conduct of the Border War. Accounts from both the Indian and Chinese perspective are available. Especially valuable in the development of this paper's thesis are the historical background of the border disputes by British historian Alastair Lamb, and the detailed reporting of the Border War by British newspaper correspondent Neville Maxwell. WAR SINCE 1945 SEMINAR The China-India Border War (1969)
Lieutenant Commander James B. Calvin, USN
2 April 1984
Marine Corps Command and Staff College
Marine Corps Development and Education Command
Quantico, Virginia 22134
List of Maps
List of Figures
I Historic Roots Early Border Claims
II Movement to Conflict Failure of Negotiations
III The Combatants: The Chinese and Indian Armies in 1962
IV Summer 1962 Skirmishes
V The Border War
Appendix 1 Chronology of Key Events
Appendix 2 List of key Personalities
1 China and India General Area
2 Border Claims Ladakh and Aksai Chin
3 Aksai Chin Claims Simplified and Chinese Road
4 North East Frontier Agency (NEFA)
5 Border Claims in North East frontier Agency
6 Small Scale Map Used at Simla Conference
7 Lohit Valley, in Eastern NEFA
8 India's Forward Policy
9 Thag La Ridge Campaign
10 October Tawang Campaign
11 Aksai Chin Campaign
12 End of Aksai Chin Campaign
13 November NEFA Campaign
14 China's "Traditional" Territorial Claims
1 Organization of the People's Liberation Army
2 Organization of a Chinese Army
3 Chinese Mountain and Cold Weather Operations
4 Organization of the Indian Army
Why do nations go to war?
How does each nation conduct herself in a battle or a war?
What crucial lessons can be learned from the conduct of a battle or a war?
These are key issues for the student of military history, strategy, and tactics. The 1962 China-India Border War provides fertile ground for the study of the above questions.
The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of the China-India Border War: its causes, the movement to armed conflict, the Chinese and Indian armies' preparedness for war, the conduct of the border War, the ceasefire, and the consequences of the Border War. This paper follows a chronological analysis to accomplish this purpose.
This paper examines how a nation's strategic interests dictate its foreign policy and military power projection, and how stubborn, inflexible attitudes toward diplomatic negotiations can lead nations to conflict. The roots of the Border War extend back into the 19th Century, when India and China first asserted claims to borders in the remote mountain areas between the two countries. Military expeditions, intrigue, and uncompromising diplomatic exchanges did nothing to resolve the border issue. Major changes in both governments in the late 1940s brought the two countries to friendly relations in the 1950s. But "intrusions"--military strategic projections. including a Chinese military highway, into each other's claimed territory--would produce skirmishes between them and eventual war in October, 1962.
Many factors would influence the conduct and outcome of the 1962 Border War: military and logistic preparedness, foreign military aid, readiness for alpine warfare, generalship and command, intelligence (or lack thereof), assumptions, and international diplomatic intervention.
The significant fighting occurred in October and November, 1962, along three widely separated fronts. In virtually every battle, the Chinese forces either overpowered or outmaneuvered the unprepared Indian troops. In less than six weeks of bloody fighting, the Chinese completely drove the Indian forces back behind Chinese claim lines. On November 21, 1962, the Chinese dramatically declared a ceasefire after having achieved her limited strategic objectives. Following the ceasefire, China kept the territory around her military highway, but gave to India about 70% of the disputed border lands!
Because of the difficulty in obtaining primary source documents, especially Chinese primary source documents, the paper relies on secondary source accounts of both causation and conduct of the Border War. Accounts from both the Indian and Chinese perspective are available. Yet, an important example of the limited Chinese information available has been this author's inability to obtain Chinese casualty figures for the Border War. Especially valuable in the development of this paper's thesis are the historical background of the border disputes by British historian Alastair Lamb, and the detailed reporting of the Border War by British newspaper correspondent Neville Maxwell.
The significance of studying the China-India Border War lies in two areas: the military lessons to be learned, and the impact of the Border War on subsequent world history. The swift defeat of the Indian forces by the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army emphasizes the following lessons: beware of assumptions; good intelligence is important to success; logistic/supply readiness is vital; one must be prepared for special (e.g. alpine) warfare; politicians can't ignore the advice of senior officers regarding military readiness; and, generalship and command is important. The Border War had significant consequences in Asia in the years following the Border War. The Pakistanis saw how weak India was; thus, the China-India Border War was important in the roots of the 1965 India-Pakistan Border War. India saw how weak her Army was, and began a massive buildup and modernization of her Army in the mid-1960s. Much of the World viewed China as the aggressor in the China-India border War, making China's military victory a political setback. China had very limited strategic goals in the China-India Border War; she would again demonstrate limited objectives in the 1979 China-Viet Nam Border War. The military lessons are still relevant to military leaders today. And the insights from the Border War remain strategically relevant today; for example, can we expect limited (vs. global) strategic objectives from China, in spite of her ballooning population and need for food, in the 1980s and 1990s?
India and China, both amongst the largest and most populous nations of the world, share over two thousand miles of common border; the exact figure is difficult to ascertain because of border disputes. India, the seventh largest and Click here to view image second most populous* nation in the world, lays at the southern extension of Asia. China, the third largest and most populous* nation of the world, occupies central and western Asia. The length of the China-India border increased dramatically following the 1950-51 annexation of Tibet into the People's Republic of China.
The roots of the disputed border between the two nations extend back into the 19th Century. Two general areas were in contention: the northeast border areas of Kashmir (including Aksai Chin), the northern section of India on China's southwestern border; and the North East Frontier Agency (NEFA), the northeastern portion of India, on China's southern border.
At the western extremity of the Himalayan Range lies Kashmir, composed of mountains, watersheds and valleys; large sections of this area are uninhabited. Yet in this region, three international disputes have raged in recent decades: the China-India conflict we now examine, the India-Pakistan conflict which resulted in a brief but bloody war in 1965, and the China-Soviet conflict which has smothered since the 1960s. The history of the border claims in Kashmir is complex, and has been thoroughly examined by British historian Alastair Lamb1. However, a brief review of Kashmir's history and of various border claims in Kashmir is relevant in establishing the roots of the 1962 China-India border War. * Propulation and area figures are 1965 figures: India 1,227,180 square miles and 479,000,000 population; China 3,691,500 square miles and 700,000,000 population.
Because of its strategic location between India, China, Russia and Afghanistan, Kashmir and neighboring Tibet have been the focus of international events in Asia for centuries. In 1720, the Chinese Emperor K'ang Hsi invaded Lhasa, Tibet. Later Mongol invasions into Tibet made China aware of the vulnerability of its border lands. In the late 18th Century, the British East India Company began to explore Tibet as a commercial market; the Chinese reaction thwarted British interests. In the 19th Century, the expansion of Imperial Russia eastward collided with Manchu expansion westward; this started the Sino-Soviet disputes which continue into the current time. While Imperial Russia tended to prevail in the early disputes, the Chinese people continued to strive for Chinese occupation of all lands which they consider "traditionally Chinese." As Kashmir gained in geographic importance, numerous surveys and border claims arose in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. In 1904, the British invaded Tibet to thwart what Lord Curzon described as the "Russian Domination of Asia."2 In 1907, Britain and Russia agreed to a neutral buffer zone, extending from Persia to Tibet, to separate the two empires. Chinese suzerainty over Tibet suited both Russia and England. Soon, Britain pressed for a secondary buffer zone between Tibet and China--"Inner Tibet"-but China would continue to insist for sovereignty over Tibet. Even as a weakened China approached the Japanese occupation and World War II, she maintained her legal claim to territories she considered art of China.
The post-World War II era saw dramatic change in the area. India acquired independence from Britain and became a sovereign state. However, this process of decolonization saw two new states emerge on the subcontinent: India and Pakistan, and both clashed over Kashmir. At the same time, the Chinese Communists came to power in China. Both India and China were conscious of their new status and of past history. The stage was thus set for India and China to come to conflict over the Aksai Chin area in the Karakoram Mountains of Kashmir.
As noted above, the various border claims within the Aksai Chin area are complex. And while China and India disputed the border on two fronts (east in NEFA and west in Aksai Chin, this western border was especially significant, for China had built a military highway--to link Sinkiang and Tibet--here in 1956-57; Peking was adamant in retaining her right to this land. However, China would eventually readily surrender her claims in North East Frontier Agency.
Until the 19th Century, the desolate highlands of Aksai Chin were rarely visited or explored; no major migrations or invasions crossed the Karakoram Range. Until the middle of that century, there was a general understanding that the Karakoram Range separated areas traditionally Indian and Chinese, although no specific attempt was made to demark a boundary. But in 1864, the Kashmir Survey set out to define the boundary; this Survey included both surveying and inquiries to local mountain residents as to the location of the "traditional" boundary. A surveyor, W. H. Johnson, was responsible for the Ladakh-Tibet border in the entire Aksai Chin area. Johnson's work has been severely criticized for gross inaccuracies, with description of his boundary as "patently absurd"; he even extended it eighty miles further north than the Indian claim when she and China came to conflict over the border. Johnson was reprimanded by the British Government for crossing into Khotan without permission, and resigned from the Survey. Despite the criticisms of Johnson, his boundary still appeared on some maps in the late 1860'3.
In 1874, a Kashmir map "based on good surveys and accompanied by explanatory notes" appeared; this map was based on surveys by F. Drew, Governor of Ladakh in 1871. Drew, even in improving upon the Johnson survey, noted that his maps have "not the same degree of detail as the maps (of India), . . . tracts which have been regularly surveyed, for it was made on a hurried journey over ground where to halt was to starve." Drew, in describing the Aksai Chin boundary, addressed the area which would later become the center of controversy between China and India:
A great watershed range divides the two territories (Turkestan and hashmir). But it will be observed that from the Karakoram Pass eastward to past the meridian of 80°, the line is more finely dotted. This has been done to denote that the boundary is not defined. There has been no authoritative demarcation of it at all; and as the country is quite uninhabited for more than a hundred miles east and west and north and south I cannot apply the principles of representing the state of actual occupation. I have by the dotted boundary only represented my own opinion of what would be defined were the powers interested to attempt to agree to a boundary. . . . I can vouch that the boundary marked accurately represents the present state. For this part my information dates from 1871, when I was the Governor of Ladakh. This applies also to the rest of the boundary between the Maharaja's and the Chinese territories.4
Drew's map, while based on good surveys, was not an official map. Official maps, generally published by governments, usually represent official demarcations of boundaries. Drew's lines were simply his best estimate of an unofficial boundary in this remote mountainous area of Aksai Chin.
Thus, by the late 1870s, there were two Aksai Chin boundaries. One, the Johnson line, was published in Atlases but was clearly inaccurate and may have had some British political pretenses. The other--essentially the Drew boundary--was better documented, an alignment based on history, tradition, and surveys in Ladakh. For London, the exact border did not matter, for British interests in Aksai Chin were simply strategic: a buffer between India and Tibet, China, and Russia to the north. Under these circumstances, the specific boundary line was flexible, the key intent only to maintain Britain's buffer zone.
By 1890, the Chinese began to assert their claim to the Karakoram Range as their southern boundary in Sinkiang. In 1892, they placed a pillar of stone and wooden boundary notice on the summit of the harakoram Pass. The Indian Government, in 1907, learned of the Chinese border marker and
expressed themselves in favour of the Chinese filling up the "no-man's-land" beyond the Karakoram. . . . and as seeing no reason to remonstrate with the Chinese over the erection of these boundary marks, though they could not regard them as having any international value, the demarcation not having been undertaken by (Britain and China) jointly.5
The British then asked the Chinese to clarify their intentions and ambitions in the Karakoram area, showing the Chinese a Russian map which showed the boundary considerably north of the Karakoram Range--probably the Johnson line--and placing Aksai Chin in Kashmir territory. The Chinese responded with a survey team sent to Aksai Chin; this survey team produced a map showing the karakoram Range as the Sino-Indian boundary, with Aksai Chin as part of China. But the Chinese survey, too, was of poor quality, and did nothing to clarify or to make official the boundary in the Aksai Chin area.
Perhaps the best attempt to resolve the Aksai Chin boundary occurred in 1896; George Macartney, the British representative in Kashgar, brought the issue of the disputed border to the leading Chinese official in Kashgar. Macartney was halfChinese and spoke fluent Chinese; his father had been advisor to the Chinese Legation in London. Macartney was loyal to Britain, yet he had a deep understanding of the Chinese. Macartney agreed that the British claims (the Johnson line) were inappropriate, and that if this deserted area were to be divided, then it should be half British and half Chinese. He felt that Aksai Chin proper, north of the Lokzhung Range, was Chinese; south of the Range, British. In the summer of 1898, Lord Elgin's Indian Government incorporated Macartney's ideas into a definite proposal. The proposal asked the Chinese to accept a verbal description of the Kashmir boundary, and that physical demarcation on the ground did not seem necessary in this remote area. The relevant portion of the proposal was as follows:
From the Karakoram Pass the crests of the range run nearly east for about half a degree, and then turn south to a little below the 35th parallel. . . . Rounding . . . the source of the Karakash, the line of hills to be followed runs north-east to a point east of Kizil Jilga and from there, in a southeasterly direction, follows the Lak Tsung (Lokzhung) Range until that meets a spur . . . which has hitherto been shown on our maps as the eastern boundary of Ladakh.6
Lord Elgin's proposal was fortunate not only as an attempt to resolve the boundary, but also to stem the growing number of lines demarking the Kashmir border in Aksai Chin. Map Two (page 13) shows the variety of claims which had evolved by the turn of the century.
On March 14, 1899, Sir Claude MacDonald, the British minister to China, submitted the description of this alignment of the proposed border (in writing, but regrettably without any maps) to the Chinese Department of External Affairs in Peking. The MacDonald proposal included the boundary suggested by Macartney, and further added:
It will not be necessary to mark out the frontier. The natural frontier is the crest of a range of mighty mountains, a great part of which is inaccessible. It will be sufficient if the two Governments (of Great Britain and China) . . . enter into an agreement to recognize the frontier as laid down by its clearly marked geographical features.7
The Department of External Affairs in Peking communicated the proposal to the Sinkiang Provincial Government. The Sinkiang Government had no objections to the boundary alignment, and the British Legation was informally notified that there were no objections; however, no formal acceptance was forwarded from Peking. By the time the Chinese had responded, the British were beginning to reconsider the proposed boundary; hence, the British made no efforts to secure a formal response to MacDonald's proposal. The Chinese Communist government of the mid-20th Century would regret that the 1899 Chinese government did not convey a formal acceptance of the MacDonald boundary proposal; as Map Three shows, the controversial Chinese military road--the key issue which eventually led the two nations to war--lies to the north (the Chinese side) of the 1899 MacDonald line. Click here to view image The rising British interests which called for a more northern (Johnson line) boundary in Kashmir were clearly not the issue of whether India or China would lay claim to the barren Aksai Chin area; rather, Great Britain simply wanted her border as far north as possible to maximize the buffer zone between British India and Imperial Russia. The Elgin Government, which had rejected the Johnson line and had submitted the 1899 MacDonald proposal, was replaced by Lord Curzon's ministry that year. Lord Curzon, and Lords Minto and Hardinge who followed him, advocated the northern (Johnson) boundary. For the next decade, the British made no attempt to secure either a Chinese definition of the Kashmir boundary or an official boundary agreement with China. From the turn of the century, the Johnson* boundary became accepted British policy. The Chinese Revolution erupted in 1911, toppling the imperial dynasty. In the disorder which followed , the central government's power collapsed in Central Asia. Great Britain and Russia began negotiations regarding the status and boundaries of Kashmir; however, the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 ended attempts to resolve boundaries in Central Asis. At the end of World War I, British India emerged with the JohnsonArdagh boundary as its more-or-less official border in Aksai Chin. In 1927, the Indian Government appears to have decided to adjust their version of the Kashmir frontier border. From *Also known as the Ardagh or Johnson-Ardagh boundary Afghanistan to Karakoram Pass, the Indian Government abandoned the northern Johnson-Ardagh line in favor of a boundary along the Karakoram Range (up to Karakoram Pass); while this would indicate an abandonment of the Ardagh line, the old (Ardagh) line remained on British and Indian maps until about 1950! These maps also continued to show the Johnson-Ardagh line as the Indian boundary around the north of Aksai Chin, even though the border was still never openly discussed with China or Tibet.
By 1940, Britain still had never attempted to establish outposts or exert authority in Aksai Chin; China still considered the territory theirs, as was reflected on Chinese maps. World War II distracted the governments from minor border claims. The bleak and empty reaches of Aksai Chin thus remained without an official boundary between India and China/Tibet.
In 1947, the new Indian government took as its boundaries those claimed by Britain for decades; thus, India considered Aksai Chin as part of her state of Kashmir. But the rulers in Peking had other ideas about this. The new regimes, in India and in China, thus would soon find disagreement and conflict over the Ladakh frontier.
Between Aksai Chin and the North East Frontier Agency, there were minor border disputes. In the Spiti, Niti Pass, and Nilang regions--about 200 miles south of Aksai Chin and 100 miles northwest of Nepal--laid several disputed borders. But the total contested area here was small, about 200 square miles (compared to over 15,000 square miles contested in Aksai Chin). These small areas had practicied dual allegiance to British India and to Tibet for decades. So long as Britain felt that she had enough influence to exclude rival powers in these regions, she was content with an informal boundary on the plains beneath the foothills in the Nilang region.8 When the Chinese and Indian border disputes arose, the aggression in this middle section was minimal. The western (Aksai Chin) and eastern (NEFA) disputes were far more grave; thus, this disputed middle section came to have only minimal importance in the Border War.
The eastern element of dispute centers around the North East Frontier Agency (NEFA), with a 700 mile border and about 32,000 square miles disputed between India and China. The North East Frontier Agency is a sparsely populated mountainous area in the extreme northeast of India. Britain acquired the territory in 1826 as a result of victory in the First Burmese War; the Treaty of Yandaboo gave all of Assam to the British. The northern section of Assam was to become the North East Frontier Agency (see Map Four, page 18).
The Tawang Tract, in the western end of NEFA and adjoining east Bhutan, had been heavily influenced by Tibetan culture, religion and government for centuries. Through the 19th Century, the Tawang Tract was an important trade route between India and Tibet; it was this trade route that first attracted British attention here. In the middle of the 19th Century, however, Britain was surprised to learn that Tawang was part of Tibet. Click here to view image Major J. Jenkins, Agent for the North East Frontier, filed a report in 1847 noting that the Tawang Raja "is a fuedatory of the Raja or Governor of Lassa."* The Tawang Tract boundary was the only one in NEFA to be demarked in the 19th Century. In 1872, four monastic officials from Tibet arrived in Tawang and supervised a boundary settlement *Lhasa, Tibet with Major R. Graham, NEFA official, which included the Tawang Tract as part of Tibet. Thus, in the last half of the 19th Century, it was clear that the British treated the Tawang Tract as part of Tibet. This boundary was confirmed in a June 1, 1912 note from the British General Staff in India, stating that the "present boundary (demarcated) is south of Tawang, running westwards along the foothills from near Ugalguri to the southern Bhutanese border."9 The Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation of 1873 created the "Inner Line" and the "Outer Line." The Inner Line was an administrative line, in the Assam triba areas, to keep hunters and traders out of the Assam tribal areas; no taxes were collected beyond the Inner Line. The Outer Line (see Map Five) Click here to view image was the international boundary of British India. Part of the Outer Line was demarcated, from the Bhutanese border to the Baroi River at latitude 27o, longitude 93o 20'. East of the Baroi, no demarked Outer Line existed; the line was verbally defined as a readily recognizable line along the foot of the hills as far as Nizamghat. However, little publicity was given to the demarcation of the Outer Line. In the 20th Century, the British would attempt to deny that the international border ever followed the foothill alignment. However, a 1908 map of The Province of Eastern Bengal and Assam (32 miles to the inch), prepared for the Foreign Department of the Government of India, showed the international boundary from Bhutan continuing to the Baroi River.
In 1905, Noel Williamson, Assistant Political Officer in Sadiya, argued that British officers should venture further into tribal areas, establish posts, and make the tribes aware of the benefits of British rule in India. Lord Morley, Secretary of State for India, rebuffed this notion because establishment of British posts would be
. . . followed by further progressive annexation to which it would be difficult to set a limit. . . . At the back of the Abor hills lies foreign territory, Tibet, and between the Abors and Tibet proper there may be tribes which are more or less under Tibetan influence.10
Williamson was formally warned not to cross the Outer Line without expressed permission. In 1908, 1909, 1910, and 1911, Williamson made four trips into the Tawang Tract, well north of the Outer Line, against Government prohibitions. Then on March 30, 1911, Williamson and a tea estate doctor were attacked and killed by Abor tribesmen in Kebang, well north of the Outer Line. Williamson's death provided for the revision of the tribal policy for which Williamson himself had argued for years.
In 1904, the British had sent an army to Lhasa, ostensibly because of Tibetan refusal to communicate with the Government of India; the real reason for the expedition was Lord Curzon's fear of Russian influence in Tibet. As a result of the British occupation of Lhasa, Chinese influence in Tibet grew; the British refused to deal with Tibet except through China. Tibet was soon incorporated into the Chinese provincial structure. Between 1905 and 1910, the Chinese attempted to assert their influence in Nepal and Bhutan, regions adjoining British Assam. The British became alarmed as Chinese activity and influence penetrated into the Tawang Tract. In 1910, Chinese troops planted boundary flags just below Walong; the British could not protest, as they regarded Walong as marking the Tibetan border. Yet, they felt that they could not stand by and let China assert influence into the Tawang Tract.
The British had to do something. Sir Lancelot Hare, the Lieutenant Governor of Eastern Bengal and Assam stated that "in view of the Chinese pushing forward, that it would be a mistake not to put ourselves in a position to take up strategic points of defense."11 The British Government in both India and London rejected moving the Outer Line northward to meet the present limits of Chinese influence; they feared Russian reaction to any advance. The 1911 murder of Williamson appears to have provided the solution.
A British expedition, headed by Major General Hamilton Bower, was mounted in late 1911; the mission continued until 1913. The alleged purpose of the expedition was punitive; indeed, the Abors were punished for slaying Williamson. However, much of the expedition's time and manpower was spent in determining the extent of Chinese penetration, and in establishing a new boundary which would keep the Chinese as far as possible from the Assam tea plantations. The ultimate objective of the expedition was to define a new border along the mountain crests and watersheds, to exercise British control up to that boundary, and to inform the Chinese of the new limits of British sovereignty. By the end of 1913, the British had explored much of the Assam Himalayas. The British had inspected the Chinese boundary markers near Walong and put up British markers beside them. The British surveys were to provide a good map of the Himalayas in Assam and in the Tawang Tract--all as an indirect result of Williamson's murder. These surveys and maps would soon form the basis for the McMahon Line.
While the British were exploring Assam, the 1911 Chinese Revolution erupted. By 1912, Chinese influence in Tibet had fallen drastically. As Chinese power in Tibet waned, Chinese pressure on the Assam border ceased to exist. The British now endeavored to secure the Assam Himalayas from any future Chinese intervention.
The fall of Chinese power in Tibet led to negotiations between British Indian, Chinese, and Tibetan delegates to the Simla Conference of 1913-14. The British had decided to make Tibet a genuine buffer state. The British chief delegate, Sir Henry McMahon, introduced the idea of a second buffer into the long Sino-Tibetan debates over the boundary between Chinese control and the Tibetan buffer. McMahon wanted to divide Tibet, just as Mongolia had been divided. Outer Tibet would be the buffer between China and the British Indian frontier. Inner Tibet would be part of China. However, the complexity of this concept provided severe problems for the Conference. The Chinese could not accept the definition of the Outer Tibet-Inner Tibet boundary which was agreeable to the Tibetans. In April, 1914, McMahon pressured the Chinese delegate into initialing a text based on the Tibetan-approved line. The Chinese government immediately repudiated the agreement. The Chinese rejection was a blow to McMahon's buffer scheme. However, McMahon had meanwhile negotiated another buffer and zone of defense for the Himalayas. He had made a separate agreement with the chief Tibetan delegate; this agreement defined the frontier line along the crest of the Assam Himalayas, based on the 1911-13 Abor Expedition. The line was marked on a large-scale (eight miles to the inch) map; however, this map and the details of the McMahon-Tibetan agreement were not communicated to the Chinese. On a much smaller-scale map, which was used in the discussions of the Inner Tibet-Outer Tibet boundary, the McMahon-Tibetan boundary (which would become the McMahon Line) was shown as a sort of appendix to the boundary between Inner Tibet and China proper (see Map Six, below). The McMahon Line was never discussed with the Chinese Click here to view image at the Conference. The Chinese (both Koumintang and Communist) have maintained that the negotiating of the McMahon Line was a British trick, and have prefixed the word "illegal" to any mention of the McMahon Line or the boundary it represents. Lamb asserts that, in a sense, it was a British trick, since McMahon realized that the Chinese were capable of arguing the border for years without resolution, and McMahon wanted to get the Assam border settled with a minimum of fuss.12 It is likely, though, that the Chinese were somewhat aware of what McMahon was doing; in any case, the Chinese Government had rejected the April 1914 text.
In July, 1914, after McMahon had failed to acquire Chinese agreement to the April text, he again negotiated directly with the Tibetan delegate. McMahon and the Tibetans initialed a new Convention with a text only slightly modified from the April text. At the same time they signed a declaration pronouncing the Convention binding, and denied to the Chinese any rights under it until they too agreed. Thus, the Simla Convention would become the basis for much controversy, and the question of a boundary along the Himalayas was essentially left unresolved.
The old Outer Line had protruded east from Bhutan just south of the 27th line of latitude. The new McMahon Line extended from Bhutan at latitude 27o 45', to 92o of east longitude, and thence northeasterly. All of Tawang was now within the British Indian Empire. In the eastern Lohit Valley, the boundary retreated northwards from Walong (where both Chinese and british markers had been placed) to Kahao, 20 miles north. It simply appeared that the British wanted the boundary alignment northward to permit good defensive points in ranges far enough north to eliminate any Chinese influence into Assam. It is possible that the British simply wanted to take over Tawang, for a better strategic border alignment.
The Tibetans apparently had no qualms with the McMahon Line, and continued to conduct traditional Tibetan administration in those areas where it extended across the new boundary. The Chinese, on the other hand, denied that the Conference had any validity. Not only had the Chinese failed to validate the McMahon Line, but the Chinese also repudiated Tibet's authority to negotiate any treaty or boundary independent of Chinese influence or sovereignty. Chinese maps of the 1930s showed the border with Assam to follow the old Outer Line, with the Himalayas shown as part of Tibet and hence as part of China. It is interesting that the 1929 Encyclopaedia Britannica showed the disputed area as part of China, with the boundary following the alignment shown on Chinese maps!
In January, 1914, T. O'Callaghan, assistant administrator of the Eastern Sector of the North East Frontier, was sent up the Lohit Valley. Just below Walong, he found both old Chinese boundary markers and a new marker placed in 1912 by the Chinese Republic. O'Callaghan removed all the markers, took them upstream, and simply replaced them near Kahao (see Map Seven, next page), just below the McMahon boundary! He then went to Rima, conferred with Tibetan officials, and found no Chinese influence in the area. O'Callaghan proposed a road to, and a post in, Walong; but his superiors showed no interest in his proposal.
As late as 1936, the Tibetans were still administering and taxing the Tawang Tract. The Governor of Assam noted that Tawang was " undoubtedly British, (but) . . . controlled Click here to view image by Tibet, and none of its inhabitants have any idea that they are not Tibetan."13 The Governor instructed Captain G. S. Lightfoot of the Western Sector to go up to Tawang in 1938 and demonstrate British sovereignty. The Tibetan Government protested Lightfoot's arrival, and demanded that he withdraw. Upon his return, Lightfoot proposed that the Tibetans be forced to withdraw all their officials in Tawang to the north of the McMahon Line. The Government of India rejected this proposal, not wanting any permanent occupation and further expenditure When World War II erupted, there was still no decision about Tawang, and the Tibetans continued to administer it. But the war showed the Government of India the vulnerability (this time from the Japanese) of the eastern frontier of India. British policy in the eastern Himalayas again gained momentum, and Britain resolved to make the Simla Convention boundary good. Official Chinese maps still showed the pre1914 Outer Line as the boundary in Assam; with Allied victory coming in the Far East, the British feared an expansionistic China. The British placed armed posts up the Lohit Valley to the McMahon border. In the Dihang Valley, British military patrols were sent to turn back Tibetan tax collectors. In the Tawang Tract, British armed posts were established up to Se La.
By late 1947, the British had thus laid the groundwork for control up to the McMahon Line. But Tawang was still essentially under Tibetan administration; the loyalties of the tribes were still with Tibet. This was the situation which the new Indian republic inherited from Britain.
The Indian republic, threatened by the Communist takeover in China and then the Chinese occupation of Tibet, formed the North East Frontier Agency to administer the Assam frontier. It is of interest that NEFA came under the Ministry of External Affairs--despite British and Indian claims that this area had been claimed as Indian for years. In 1951, an Indian NEFA official was stationed in Tawang, ending any Tibetan control south of the McMahon Line.
Thus, as new regimes came to power in India and in China, the new governments inherited the border disputes in NEFA and in Aksai Chin. Just as strategic interests--India's desire for a buffer zone between her and China, and Chin'a claims to areas "always traditionally Chinese"--had created minor disputes for decades, similar strategic objectives would create problems for the two new governments. The NEFA and Aksai Chin regions were question marks. India occupied NEFA and believed it to be hers. But, as in Aksai Chin, China firmly and honestly believed that the areas in question were Chinese (or Tibetan, and therefore Chinese after the takeover of Tibet). The stage was set--in Aksai Chin and in the NEFA--for controversy, frustrating negotiations, and eventual conflict and war.
In the late 1940s, the advent of new regimes in India and in China brought new border problems and new border policies. The 1947 emergence of the Indian republic led to withdrawal of British power from the Indian subcontinent and the beginnings of a changing power balance in Asia. When the Communist regime emerged strongly in 1949, the balance of power tipped even further; however, border issues would probably have remained, whether China was ruled by the Nationalists or the Communists.
The new Indian republic devoted little time or attention to border conflicts with China in her first two years; rather, India was preoccupied with Pakistan, resolving border conflicts in Kashmir. In 1947, Muslim disorder grew in Kashmir, and the Maharajah appealed to India for help; Indian troops responded. Pakistan also responded, and bloody fighting continued sporadically until late December, 1948. In January, 1949, a United Nations-supervised ceasefire and international frontier was established; but tensions in Kashmir and Jammu continued for years. In 1954, Kashmir constitutionally became part of India. But tensions between Pakistan and India continued for years; in 1965 and 1971 they would fight again. In 1950, India's attention began to focus back toward China.
Two major Chinese ventures in 1950 would have important impact on the Sino-Indian border problem. In October, the Chinese army advanced on Chamdo, 370 miles east of Lhasa, and Tibetan troops accepted defeat. The Government of India protested what it considered to be a wrongful and unnecessary use of force; yet, Nehru tended to accept Chinese authority over Tibet. By the end of 1950, China was in control of Tibet. In May, 1951, a Chinese-Tibetan treaty was signed; China would set up military and administrative committees in Tibet, the Tibetan army would be integrated into the Chinese army, and all of Tibet's external relations would be handled by China. In 1951, Nehru reacted to events in Tibet by sending an Indian expedition to the Tawang Tract to assert Indian influence up to the McMahon Line.
The second event, also in October, 1950, was China's military support of North Korea in the Korean Conflict. While China's part in Korea would draw upon her military and economic resources, Korea did provide cold weather and mountain warfare skills which China would use in the 1962 Border War.
Relations between China and India were generally good in the early 1950s, and the border issue remained quiet. India exported grain to Chinese troops and civilians working in Tibet. Chinese troops did not enter into NEFA. And India did not challenge occasional Chinese troops in Aksai Chin.
In September, 1951, Chou En-Lai suggested talks to stabilize the Tibetan frontier. While Chou stated that "there was no territorial dispute or controversy between India and China,"1 it seems clear through the early 1950s that China did not accept the McMahon Line as India's northeast boundary. India responded that negotiations would be welcome; yet, no talks began for three years.
In April, 1954, India and China signed an agreement regarding trade, travel and representation between India and the "Tibet region of China." This agreement included a pledge of nonaggression, the "Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence": mutual respect for the other's territorial integrity/sovereignty, mutual nonaggression, mutual noninterference in each other's affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence. The 1954 agreement did not address any major boundary disputes; the agreement simply named six passes in the Middle Sector (between Ladakh and Nepal) as trade passes, without specifying any boundary.
In the middle 1950s, Pakistan aligned with the United States, and began receiving U. S. military aid. This disturbed India, and forced Nehru to relax his policy of nonalignment and seek support from Russia. While relations with the Soviets cooled in 1956 following the Russian intervention in Hungary, India did continue to seek Soviet aid, including military aid which would fortify India's position in 1962.
Prime Minister Nehru visited Peking in October, 1954, and raised the question of the border shown on Chinese maps. According to Nehru's account, Chou assured Nehru that the question was of no importance.2
Late in 1954, Chinese government pressure in Tibet was stirring up increasing discontent amongst the turbulent Khamba tribesmen in eastern Tibet. Military actions by the Khamba tribesmen jeopardized Chinese lines of communication with Tibet from the east, as early as 1955. The Khamba actions were to have strong implications for the border situation, for it led China into building a new supply route into Tibet.
In March, 1956, the Chinese People's Liberation Army began construction of a military highway between western Sinkiang and western Tibet--directly across the Aksai Chin plateau, an area which the Indians clearly believed to be Indian (south of the Johnson-Ardagh line) and which the Chinese clearly believed to be Tibetan/Chinese (north of the MacartneyMacDonald line). Construction of the 1200 kilometer road, under difficult conditions in Aksai Chin, lasted from March, 1956, until completion in October, 1957. It has already been noted that Aksai Chin was remote and desolate, and that India had minimal interests in the area; the Indian government did not even learn of the road's existence until September, 1957! In July, 1958, the existence of the highway was confirmed to India by published Chinese maps which not only showed the new route, but also placed all of Aksai Chin in Chinese territory. In July, the Government of India sent an initial protest to Peking, and sent two patrols to reconnoiter the road. The two patrols were detained by the Chinese, sensitive about the security of her new highway, for one month.
In December, 1958, Nehru wrote a friendly letter to Chou En-Lai about the Chinese maps--but without specifically referring to the military road--showing Aksai Chin as Chinese. Nehru reminded Chou of his statement about "no boundary dispute" between them. Nehru further asserted that these "large parts of India" being "anything but India, and there is no dispute about them." In a polite reply, Chou pointed out that the frontier and boundary had never been officially agreed upon by the two governments. Chou reminded Nehru that no central Chinese government had ever recognized the McMahon Line, which he called "a product of the British policy of aggression." Premier Chou was especially adamant about Aksai Chin, stating that Aksai Chin had "always been Chinese jurisdiction" and that it was regularly patrolled by Chinese border patrols. Chou proposed discussions leading to a mutually agreed survey, and that both sides should maintain their present positions--"maintain the status quo." Chou meant "status quo" to mean the present positions, now, and Nehru read "status quo" to mean the position which had been "until now." This semantic difference would impair future understandings and discussions. Chou's January, 1959 reply also implied that China would be willing to stay behind the McMahon Line in NEFA if China could retain her claim to Aksai Chin. Nehru's March, 1959 reply to Chou was an essentially uncompromising account of the historical basis for the Indian position on the boundary.
In March, 1959, disorder and fighting worsened in Tibet. The Dalai Lama crossed the McMahon Line into India and was granted political asylum. China had long suspected that India was aiding the Tibetan rebels, and the deteriorating situation in Tibet only aggravated Sino-Indian problems. In March, a large number of Khamba tribesmen had escaped into Nepal and India, acquired arms, and then disappeared back into Tibet. China thus felt it necessary to seal off the Indian frontier along the McMahon Line, to prevent Tibetan rebels from crossing into India to acquire arms.
Meanwhile, the diplomatic exchanges continued. But Nehru maintained that there was little to negotiate about the frontiers claimed by India. He was prepared to discuss "minor details" of border delimitation, but only if China would first withdraw from, and renounce her claim to, Aksai Chin. Chou En-Lai consistently refused to accept any of India's claims, and again proposed that negotiations start from the basis of actual position on the ground.
In mid-1959, India became sensitive about China's (antiTibetan rebel) activity along the McMahon Line. Indian border police began to establish checkposts along the McMahon Line, and moved border patrols forward toward the frontier of Tibet. This resulted in two clashes in August, 1959. In NEFA, the Indians attempted to occupy the hamlet of Longju, north of the McMahon Line, or at best a disputed border area.3 The two sides exchanged fire, and the Indian border police soon withdrew to the south.
The second clash occurred at Konga Pass, south of the Karakoram Range in western Tibet. The skirmish at Konga (or Konga La) Pass was a fire fight with losses on both sides-probably nine Indians and several Chinese killed. Author John Rowland gives an empassioned description of how the Indian patrol was captured, mistreated, interrogated, and "brainwashed."4 There was controversy as to which side fired first, but India publicized the incident as a "brutal massacre of an Indian policy party."
There was uproar in both countries about the Longju, Konga Pass, and other minor clashes in 1959; both sides launched letters of protest. Chou's September, 1959 letter repeated the Chinese position that the border had never been officially delimited; he stated that while China did not recognize the McMahon Line, Chinese troops had not crossed the Line. Chou described the boundary problem as a "complicated question left over by history." He further stated that Chinese troops were on the border solely for the purpose of preventing Tibetan rebels from moving back and forth over the border; he further commented that the Indian responses were provocative and unnecessary. Nehru's September reply to Chou again outlined the history and geography of the frontier question, and again stated that no settlement could be reached until the Chinese withdrew from all territory claimed by India, including Aksai Chin.
Shortly after the Konga pass incident, President Eisenhower announced that he would visit New Delhi. To China, this gave the appearance of India growing closer to both the United States and Russia. This only strengthened China's perception of India becoming more and more anti-Chinese.
In New Delhi, Nehru was receiving some criticisms of his policy of thrusting patrols into the frontier and setting up posts. Several senior Indian Army officers labeled the "forward policy" as militarily unwise, on the grounds that the Indian Army was neither militarily nor logistically prepared to deal with Chinese military strength in the frontiers. His response to this military advice, unfortunately, was to replace the officers with more subservient ones. Not only did Nehru make the mistake of ignoring his senior officers' advice, he also made the simultaneous error of rigidly adhering to three assumptions. He assumed that the Chinese would not stand up against an India backed by both the United States and Russia, that China would not oppose his patrols and outposts, and that Peking would readily withdraw under Indian pressure. All these assumptions were to prove erroneous, especially as Chou had warned Nehru not to pursue such a forward policy.
The diplomatic letters between Chou and Nehru continued through the end of 1959 and into 1960. In November, 1959, Chou proposed that both sides withdraw their troops twenty kilometers behind the McMahon Line, and also twenty kilometers from the line up to which each side exercised actual control in Aksai Chin. This would have removed the Indian army from its positions along the McMahon Line, and would have retained Chinese control, in Aksai Chin, over the Sinkiang-Tibet military highway and a new road which the Chinese built in 1959. While Chou's proposal was, of course, favorable to the Chinese, he was nevertheless proposing talks and a compromise. Nehru's November reply neither totally accepted nor rejected Chou's proposal. Nehru ruled out the idea of withdrawing from the McMahon Line, but proposed instead that each side refrain from sending patrols forward. For Aksai Chin, Nehru proposed that each side withdraw behind the line claimed by the other; this would have necessitated no drawback by the Indians in the west, but would have deprived China of its two Aksai Chin roads. Nehru implied that acceptance of this proposal was a prerequisite for any further talks between himself and Chou. Nehru thus rejected what he must have known to be the best Chinese offer he was likely to get without going to war.5 Chou's December reply was that, since the Konga Pass incident, China had stopped sending patrols out along the entire frontier. Chou further stated that Nehru's proposal was one-sided, and urged that the two leaders meet in less than ten days. Nehru understandably declined to meet on such short notice, but proposed no alternate date. In late December, China replied with another historical view of her side of the boundary dispute, and again asked for negotiations but without specifying a date. Nehru replied in February, 1960, again giving the Indian historical position and noting that there was little or no common ground on their respective viewpoints. But Nehru did propose further talks, and Chou did come to New Delhi in April, 1960; the talks were a total failure. Like the one-sided diplomatic letters, neither side was willing to change its position; hence, no compromises were presented.
Thus, the early 1960 diplomatic efforts at settlement or even compromise, between India and China, were essentially a total failure. Talks in late 1963 resulted in complete disagreement; each side even published incompatible reports of the discussions.
In 1960, China made a preliminary border settlement with Nepal. By the end of 1960, China had also made a boundary agreement with Burma. The Sino-Burmese border began not at the McMahon Line, but eight miles further south; this placed Diphu Pass--a strategic approach to eastern Assam--in Chinese territory. India was outraged and worried.
But no settlement or compromise occurred in Sino-Indian relationships. China was willing to compromise on NEFA; thus, eastern Ladakh (Aksai Chin) emerged as the major area of dispute. With the continued failure of diplomatic efforts, the the uncompromising attitudes of both sides remained unchanged until the outbreak of hostilities in 1962.
By 1961, India had acquired aircraft, helicopters, engineering and other military equipment from the United States and Russia. Thus equipped, the Indian army invaded Portugese Goa in December, 1961. Goa was rapidly constitutionally incorporated into the Indian republic. Although no real protests or opposition occurred as a result of this action, the annexation of Goa reinforced China's view of India as being expansionistic.
This foreign military support also encouraged India to pursue her forward policy in Aksai Chin. In 1961, India had purchased eight Antov transports--complete with 40 Soviet pilots, navigators and mechanics--for use in Aksai Chin. Russian also supplied India with 24 Ilyushin-14 transports and Mil'-4 helicopters, capable of lifting men and supplies to altitudes of 17,000 feet. By mid-1962, India had also agreed to buy two squadrons of Soviet MIG jet fighters. Thus fortified, India pursued a more aggressive foreign policy against China.
By the end of 1961, Nehru had sent enough Indian Army troops into Aksai Chin to establish about 43 posts on the Ladakh frontier claimed by China. Many of the Indian outposts were parallel to, but about 100 miles from, the first Chinese military road. However, three of the outposts were near Konga Pass, in the vicinity of the second Chinese highway.
In August, 1961, China began sending a series of angry protests to India. China had one basic arguement: that Indan troops had intruded into Chinese territory. Nehru's response to Chou's complaints was that his (Nehru's) purpose was to "vacate the aggression (by the Chinese) by whatever means are feasible to us. . . . I do not see any kind of peace in the frontier so long as all recognised aggression is not vacated."6
The latter half of 1961 brought China and India to increasing confrontations and skirmishes. Exchanges of fire became commonplace. A November confrontation in Chip Chap Valley left several Chinese soldiers dead; this was followed by a Chinese withdrawal. Such "victories" convinced Nehru that the Chinese would not be assertive and that his forward policy of outposts and patrols was the correct course for India. Despite continuing protests from senior Indian Army officers that India should first build up forces and logistic supplies in the frontier before embarking further, Nehru ordered even more aggressive moves into Aksai Chin.
Thus, by early 1962, the Chinese leadership perceived that the Indian government intended to launch a massive attack against Chinese troops; they apparently believed that India had decided to go to war over the issue. China's firm insistence over her territorial rights to Aksai Chin and India's aggressive forward policy of sending troops into the frontier would soon bring further confrontations and eventual armed conflict.
The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) is the unified organization, under a single command, of all Chinese land, sea, and air forces (see Figure 1, below). The estimated Click here to view image strength of the PLA in 1962 was approximately three million officers and men. The 1962 ground combat forces consisted of about 130 divisions, mostly infantry. China is divided into eleven military regions, including the Sinkiang Military Region--responsible for Aksai China--and Chengtu Military Region--reponsible for the northeast Indian border. Click here to view image
Chinese combat power was organized around an Army (see Figure 2), with a strength of approximately 4,500 officers and 38,400 soldiers. Each Army has three Infantry Divisions, with a strength of approximately 1,300 officers and 11,300 soldiers in each Division. Major equipment of the Infantry Division included the Light Machine Gun, Antitank Grenade Launcher, and Mortars. Infantry Divisions included three Infantry Regiments, a Tank Regiment and an Artillery Regiment. An Infantry Regiment had three Infantry Battalions, equipped with 7.62mm Assault Rifles and Carbines. Even with China's massive combat manpower available, the nature of the 1962 Border War--mountain and cold weather operations--dictated tactics generally limited to the battalion and company level.
The PLA had both strengths and weakness in its readiness for mountain warfare against India. Perhaps China's biggest weakness was the economic and budgetary constraints on the Army. The Soviets has willingly supplied the PLA in the 1950's. But deteriorating relations--including border disputes-with Russia led to the end of Soviet military aid in 1960. Further, China faced national economic difficulties in the late 1950s and early 1960s. This resulted in progressive cutbacks and constraints from 1960 to 1962 for the PLA: ". . . . so serious was the shortage of military equipment and materials that it caused trouble in the training program. . . . The Ground Force is also facing the difficulties of obtaining fuel, ammunition, and batteries for the use of their vehicles and in training." The 1962 Taiwan Strait Crisis put further strains on the PLA's resources. Clearly, the watchword for the PLA was self-reliance--making due with the supplies and equipment that were available. Finally, while there has often been political control of the PLA, there was especially tight central control regarding border incidents; official orders in all border regions stated that ". . . . under no circumstance should an officer upon his own personal responsibility take steps to carry out an unauthorized decision" regarding any border/international incident; officers were directed to report incidents, and then await decisions and orders.1
On the positive side, the PLA was well prepared for mountain warfare in the Himalayas. China had gained extensive experience in both mountain and cold weather warfare in Korea; many Korea verterans were still in the PLA in the early 1960s. Not only had China gained further experience in alpine warfare over the past twelve years in Tibet, but she was fighting in the same area (the Himalayas being the southern frontier of Tibet). The Chinese were acclimitized to the weather and the altitudes (see Figure 3). They had outposts, patrols, and military construction (e.g. the two Aksai Chin roads) in the frontier. Further, the Chinese augmented their strength and mobility by using local Tibetan guides. Click here to view image
Finally, the PLA was well prepared for this type of warfare. The troops had warm, padded uniforms. They carried only what rations they needed to complete a particular mission. And they trained and practiced mobility, moving through mountain passes or over ridges at night, encircling the enemy. Even their mortars and small artillery was mobile. The Indian soldiers would report that the Chinese burp gun and human wave assaults were "demoralizing."
Despite its defense budget problems, the People's Liberation Army appeared to be prepared and ready for military operations in the Himalayas. The Indian Army's readiness for alpine warfare was quite a different story.
The Indian Ministry of Defense was the central agency for formulating and implementing the government's policy decisions on defense matters. There were three branches of service: army, navy, and air force. The Army was organized into three Commands Western, Eastern, and Southern. Units from the Eastern and Western Commands would be organized into Corpslevel Border Commands. XXIII Corps was responsible for all of NEFA; within XXXIII Corps, 4 Division was responsible for the McMahon Line. The IV Corps would be formed in September, 1962, to assume portions of the NEFA defense. In the west, XV Corps had responsibility for Aksai Chin, (see Figure 4).
When India gained her independence in 1947, the Indian components of the British Indian Army were divided between Indian and Pakistan on a ratio of 2:1. The first years of the Indian republic were marked with a generally anti-military attitude; many Indian leaders remembered the role of the army in the bloody civil war that preceeded independence; this helped contribute to pacifistic attitudes. Further, Nehru (and others) minimized foreign threats; in regard to China, Nehru stated that the Himalayas "made an effective barrier." Thus, the 1950s was generally a decade of neglect for the Indian Army.
Because India believed that there was no external threat to her--with the exception of Pakistan--the national defense budget was minimal. In the mid-1950s, the Army numbered about 350,000, and there was only minimal growth in manpower over the next several years; after India's 1962 defeat, the Army's numbers would leap to 827,000! Click here to view image
The Indian Army had significant personnel problems. The Army had only eight divisions--seven infantry and one armor. Only three battalions were available to the Western Command in the early 1960s. The budget constraints on the army and India's pacifistic attitude aggravated another problem: the British had provided much of the leadership of the British Indian army; without the British, there was a shortage of experienced officers and NCOs. It was thus difficult to build up military strength, especially when the advice of experienced senior officers was often ignored.
Apparently, Indian intelligence was also lacking. Their lack of preparedness for warfare in the Himalayas would indicate a very poor concept of the topography and weather in the area, resulting in very poor mobility across the mountains. Indian intelligence and reconnaissence seemed ignorant of Chinese strength, mobility and tactics, especially night movements and human wave attacks which the Indians called the "Red Ant Swarm."
The Indians had problems with fire power. Because of limited budget, they had minimal artillery and difficulty keeping it adequately supplied with ammunition. The artillery they did have was often immobile in the mountains.
Another area affected by the budget was training. Technical training was lacking, and there were simply not enough supplies and munitions for adequate training. Worse, there was little training for mountain warfare.
Perhaps the major problem--another result of the limited defense budget--was the logistic one. Even with foreign aid (primarily from Russia), the Indian army was lacking in virtually every area of equipment and supplies. The logistic shortfalls had many serious consequences. India lacked the engineering equipment for alpine operations. They had tentage, but not enought to house even half the soldiers. Rations were often in short supply, resulting in many hungry days for the Indian soldiers. Their communications equipment was minimal. And, almost unbelievably, the Indian army came to the Himalayas (to altitudes above 15,000 feet) in cotton, summer uniforms! Finally, transportation of supplies was a serious problem. Roads into the mountains were few; often, supplies came on long final legs by pack animal. The Indians resorted to supply by air drop, but even this had problems. Aging parachutes were used with supplies, and supplies crashed to the ground often when the parachutes failed. To make matters worse, many of the air drops landed on Chinese, rather than Indian, encampments (and to add insult to injury, the Chinese would throw out the "inedible" Indian rations)!
In summary, the Indian army was in a poor state, especially in their readiness for alpine warfare. Their fire power, supply system, training, and readiness for mountain operations were all quite lacking. They had significant personnel shortages, and would often be outnumbered by the Chinese by 5:1.2 To pit troops in such circumstances against an enemy superior in every detail of military strength would be absurd; to leave them in an early winter of heavy snow and freezing temperatures would be to condemn them to steady and severe attrition from exposure and illness and, before long, starvation.3 But this is what India did.
Under these circumstances, India's forward policy was militarily nonsensical. But some politicians and leaders simply believe what they want to believe. Nehru was still convinced that his army would be almost invincible against the Chinese. He would soon learn how wrong he was.
Well into 1962, Nehru continued to ignore the advice of his generals about the army's poor state of readiness; he also continued to assume that China would not or could not assert herself against India. Hence, Nehru continued his "forward policy" of furter extending Indian outposts and border patrols (see Map Eight). Click here to view image
India's purpose was to pursue the forward policy to drive the Chinese out of any area New Delhi considered hers. On February 4, 1962, the Home Minister declared, "If the Chinese will not vacate the areas occupied by her, India will have to repeat what she did in Goa. She will certainly drive out the Chinese forces." The Indian strategy in early 1962 was to move behind Chinese posts in an attempt to cut off Chinese supplies. China's reaction any new Indian outpost, thought, was usually to surround it with superior forces.
The diplomatic letters and protests continued, usually totally uncompromising and unproductive. In January, both sides accused the other of violating their air space. A February 26th Chinese not suggested that maintaining the status quo of the boundary was the only way to avoid military clashes, and again suggested withdrawing the troops of each side twenty kilometers back. The note concluded with the statement that "the door for negotiations is always open." In fact, China had already stopped all patrols within twenty kilometers of the border. But India again rejected th proposal, and continued to insist that the Chinese withdraw to behind the Indian claim line before there would be any negotiations on the border question. In April, Nehru announced that "We do not want war with China, but that is not within our control. Therefore we have to prepare for the contingency."1 An April Chinese letter protested Indian intrusions, and demanded that India withdraw from the Karakoram area. On May 14th, the Indians proposed to allow China to "continue to use the Aksai Chin road for civilian traffic" if China would otherwise withdraw from all Indian-claimed territory. China's reply rejected the idea but again stated that it was better to resolve the issue than to fight. In June, the 1954 Trade Agreements, including the Five Principles of Coexistence, expired; talks produced no new trade agreement, and trade representatives returned home. Relations between the two countries continued to deteriorate.
Throughout the early months of 1962, China had several external problems, especially the Taiwan Straits Crisis. Chinese leaders continued to insist that they did not want war, but that Aksai Chin was clearly Chinese and was strategically important to the People's Republic. China began to commit more border patrols--in reaction to increased border activity by Indian troops in Spring 1962. In June, when the Taiwan Strait situation eased, China's attention returned to the border situation and she brought more pressure to bear on New Delhi. India, too, continued to escalate by establishing new outposts to "defend Indian territory from further inroads."
The crisis had brewed for three years. Despite many menacing confrontations and endless protests, there had been very few casualties thus far. But in July this changed.
A Gurkha platoon had been sent forward to cut off Chinese outposts in the Galwan Valley (in Aksai Chin). On July 10th, a Chinese battalion surrounded the Indian post, cutting it off from supplies. The Chinese were attempting to halt Indian advances in Ladakh; but India continued to supply the Galwan Valley outpost by air drop. New Delhi sent a reinforcing force toward Galwan Valley, but it was turned back by the Chinese. India was continuing to move forward in an attempt to pressure China into withdrawing from the disputed area.
On July 21st, there was a skirmish in the Chip Chap Valley. Two Indian soldiers were wounded, the first since Konga Pass in 1959. The Chinese protested, and also accused India of violating the McMahon Line in NEFA.
Indeed, General B. M. Kaul, then Chief of the General Staff, had ordered the establishment of 24 posts along the McMahon Line. In June, local Indian commanders had established Dhola Post, in Tawang. The relevant issue was that Dhola Post was one mile north of the McMahon Line, in Chinese territory even by Indian standards. On August 4th, Peking accused India of violating the McMahon Line (at Dhola), and of aggression beyond its own claimed border--and therefore into Chinese territory.
But Chinese pressure was ineffective. On August 14th, Nehru told Parliament that India had three times as many posts in Ladakh as China; Nehru asked for a free hand to deal with China, and Parliament gave it to him.
In August, China improved its combat readiness in NEFA, Tibet and Sinkiang. While there was no sign of a manpower buildup in Tibet, there was construction of ammunition dumps and shockpiling of ammunition, weapons, and gasoline.
On September 8th, the Chinese reacted to the Indian outpost at Dhola. A Chinese patrol of sixty soldiers--which the Indian commander reported as 600--moved over and down the Thag La Ridge, into positions which dominated the Indian post at Dhola. The Chinese patrol suggested that local officials meet to discuss where the border lay. Orders from Nehru refuded any discussions and orders the army to relieve the Dhola Post and force the Chinese back behind Thag La Ridge. A serious clash between the sides ensured. The XXXIII Corps commander, General Umrao Singh, had protested that driving the Chinese back behind the Ridge was militarily nonsensical; Singh was later relieved and replaced by the more compliant General B. M. Kaul. Nehru used the Thag La incident to whip up national and international support. Further skirmished continued through September.
By late September, China had resumed patrols along the entire border. On September 20th, another clash occurred at Chedong, at the junction of India, Bhutan and Tibet. Both sides took casualties, including one Chinese officer killed. The fighting for physical control of disputed land was increasing.
There were both Indian and Chinese protests about the Chedong incident: India accused China of expansionism, and China warned that there was a limit to her patience and selfrestraint. Unfortunately for the Indians, Chedong was another area where China seems to have had legitimate claim. Many Indians must have questioned India's actions in Chedong, north of the McMahon Line (and Nehru's orders to push the Chinese back even further); pushing military force past India's claimed boundary clearly made India the aggressor in this and some subsequent clashes. Much of the more serious fighting to come in October was not in the areas which both China and India claimed, but in areas (Tawang and Walong) where China had a legitimate claim or where India had pushed beyond the McMahon Line.
Sporadic fighting in the Chedong area continued for the next few weeks, suggesting that India was determined to drive Chinese forces back. Now, India seemed unwilling even to discuss any border issues or proposals. An October 3rd Chinese note suggested a meeting to discuss the entire border was met with a curt Indian refusal.
On September 26th, General Kaul assumed command of XXXIII Corps; this Corps was hampered by widely dispursed troop concentrations, few weapons, inadequate supplies, and no winter clothing. On October 5th, India created a special Border Command under the command of General Kaul. Kaul was already in NEFA, preparing an "all out effort" to expel the Chinese from Thag La.
On October 9th, General Kaul ordered General John Dalvi, Commander of the Seventh Brigade, to take Yumtso La Pass. Dalvi argued that he lacked the military resources--and the winter clothing--to take the 16,000 foot Pass. Kaul compromised, and sent a fifty man patrol to Tseng Jong. the patrol reached Tseng Jong before dark on October 9th without Chinese resistance. Little did the patrol know that bloody fighting-and the China-India Border War--was only a few hours away.
The serious fighting of the 1962 China-India Border War extended from October 10, 1962, until November 20, 1962. While the entire border was the issue, the actual fighting occurred in three widely separated areas: Walong, Tawang, and Aksai Chin. It is significant that while over 47,000 square miles of frontier were in contention between China and India, that the fighting was confined to areas where the Chinese felt that they had legitimate claims. In Walong, the British (O'Callaghan, in 1914) had moved the previously agreed British and Chinese border markers northward. In Tawang, portions of India's forward policy extended even north of their claim, the McMahon Line. And in Aksai Chin, the Chinese firmly believed that the (1899) MacDonald-Macartney Line had been the accepted boundary for decades. In any case, no official boundary, over the 2,500 miles frontier, had ever been negotiated and established between the two countries.
An Indian patrol of fifty Rajputs had moved to Yumtso La without incident on the evening of October 9th. At daybreak on October 10th, they began to move toward the Yumtso La bridges. Outnumbering the Indians by about 20:1, a full battalion of Chinese emerged from their positions and quickly moved down the ridge, to form for attack. The Indian positions came under fire from heavy mortars. The Indians were able to hold off the first Chinese assault; the Chinese were apparently unaware of the Indian positions covering Tseng Jong village from the flank, and enfilade fire caused heavy Chinese casualties. The Indian commander at Tseng Jong asked for covering fire while he withdrew from what he felt was a hopeless position; but the covering fires were refused. As the Chinese pressed their attack, the Indian force of fifty was ordered to disengage and retreat to the river; engagement at Tseng Jong would have meant disaster for the Indians. The Chinese allowed them to withdraw, and held their fire as the survivors crossed the bridge to the south. Chinese casualties were 33 killed or wounded. Indian casualties were seven killed, seven missing, and eleven wounded--50% casualties. The Chinese buried the Indian dead with full military honors, in plain view of the retreating Indian comrades withdrawing south of the river.
The brief battle at Tseng Jong would have grave implications. The Chinese had attacked the Indians with force and determination. Most important, Chinese forces had not retired as General Kaul and Prime Minister Nehru had assumed when they formulated their forward policy. It was now clear to Kaul that capturing Thag La Ridge was out of the question. The Seventh Brigade remained on the Namka Chu (see Map Nine, next page), and was even ordered to extend its posts to the western end of the ridge. On October 12th, Nehru confirmed that he had ordered the army to clear the Chinese from Indian territory. But by Octover 18th, it was evident that the Chinese were making preparations for an attack; their troop and supply buildups provided ample indication of pending assault. Click here to view image
Meanwhile, on October 18th, the Indians were concerned about Tsang Le; Tsang Le was no more than a positon marked by a herdsman's hut at the sourse of the Namka Chu, but it was tactically important as a possible flank approach to the Chinese positions below Thag La Ridge. One Indian company had occupied Tsang Le since early October; the Chinese had promptly dispatched troops to protect against a flank attack. On October 18th, General Kaul ordered two companies to Tsang Le. Tsang Le, though, was not only north of the McMahon Line, but also was inside Bhutan; the Indian companies were told to ignore the Line and the boundary.1 On the 19th, the two companies prepared to move toward Tsang Le.
On the night of October 19-20, three regiments of Chinese troops prepared and deployed for their assault on the (Indian) Seventh Brigade in the Namka Chu River area (see Map Nine, page 59). The Indians had expected the Chinese to cross the Namka Chu by one or more of the five bridges (marked Br 1, B2, etc. on Map Nine), and hence were defending these crossings. But the Namka Chu, running easterly 1 2 miles north of the McMahon Line, was fordable; the Chinese generally forded rather than use the bridges. the Chinese struck near Hathung La and at Tsangdhar; but the weight of the Chinese attack was in the center of the river line. Gurkhas on their way to Tsang Le were victims of Chinese artillery. The Indian units fought fiercely against overwhelming odds, but their positions were overrun one by one. By 9 a.m. the Chinese had secured the riverline. Not only had the Chinese readily taken Indian positions, but they also cut Indian telephone lines. The Seventh Brigade quickly lost cohesion as a fighting force, and was granted permission to withdraw.
The Chinese plan was to sieze Tsangdhar and Hathung La, to cut off both escape and possible resupply. The plan had worded perfectly, especially with the massive Chinese advantage in both troops and firepower. The survivors and remnants of Indian troops withdrew back to Tawang, and the Seventh Brigade effectively ceased to exist as a fighting force by October 22nd. And Tsang Le, so important to General Kaul, was ignored by the Chinese, probably because the Chinese maps (like the Indians') showed Tsang Le in Bhutan.
General L. P. Sen, Commander-in-Chief of Eastern Command, flew to Tawang on October 22nd by helicopter. He ordered the remnants of the Indian troops--two infantry battalions and some artillery--to "hold Tawang at all costs." Sen flew back to Tezpur on October 23rd. Click here to view image
Immediately following the Thag La Ridge-Namka Chu River victory, the Chinese developed a three-prong attack (see Map Ten, page 61). On October 23rd, the three regiments which had defeated the Seventh Brigade had come throug Shakti and were poised ten miles north of Tawang. A second prong had come through Khinezemane and joined with the first force. A third line of advance came dwon through Bum La. Tawang was poorly suited for the defense, and the Indians decided to withdraw. Tawang was evacuated on October 23rd, and the Chinese occupied it--essentially unopposed--on the next day. Indian forces had now withdrawn to Se La, which they planned to reinforce and defend in strength. There were attacks against Indian posts elsewhere along the McMahon Line in the Tawang Tract; these had fallen under varying degrees of pressure.
In the eastern end of NEFA, the Chinese made some probing attacks against Walong on October 24th and 25th. But after October 25th, NEFA fell into a lull, with the majority of Chinese forces paused in Tawang, about ten miles south of the McMahon Line.
Meanwhile, there had been significant fighting in the western sector, in Aksai Chin. On October 20th, simultaneous with the Thag La Ridge attack, the Chinese assaulted Indian posts in Chip Chap Valley, Galwan Valley, and Pangong Lake (see Map Eleven, next page). The Galwn post had been surrounded by the Chinese in August, and had thence been suppolied by air. Galwan post was finally attacked and overrun on October 20th; after reporting that the Chinese had begun to shell the post, it was not heard from again. Numerous small posts were soon overwhelmed and the scant garrisons were either captured or killed. The Western Command then recognized the magnitude of the Chinese attack, and many of the small, isolated posts withdrew to the southwest. On October 21st, after heavy fighting, the Chinese took the posts at the north side of Pangong Lake. More posts, including Daulet Beg Oldi, were evacuated; but the Chinese did not approach Daulet Beg Oldi, for it laid south of their claim line. By pulling troops back, General Daulat Singh of the Western Command had methodically and rapidly built up strength to prepare for any Click here to view image further Chinese attacks. By the first week of November, three brigades--each with four infantry battalions--were organizing under Singh in Leh.
In late October, the Eastern Command made numerous changes--in both command and organization--in the Indian forces after the October defeats. Much of the energies of the Eastern Command were absorbed with these personnel moves; instead of organizing forces, these changes only resulted in confusion amongst the Indian troops on the eastern front.
After the Chinese victories in midto late-October, there was a two week lull in Chinese military activity. But it was replaced by a flurry of diplomatic activity.
On October 24th, four days after the outbreak of heavy fighting in NEFA and Aksai Chin, Chou sent a letter to Nehru, proposing: 1) a negotiated settlement of the boundary, 2) that both sides disengage and withdraw twenty kilometers from present lines of actual control, 3) a Chinese withdrawal north in NEFA, and 4) that China and India not cross lines of present control in Aksai Chin.
Nehru's reply of October 27th appeared eager to restore peace and friendly relations, but questioned a mutual twenty kilometer withdrawl after "40 or 60 kilometers of blatant military aggression." Nehru proposed, instead, a return to the "boundary prior to 8 September 1962" before any Chinese attacks; only then would India be interested in talks.
Chou's reply came on November 4th, and clarified his intent of "line of actural control." Chou's "line"--the same that he had repeatedly offered since 1959--was simply the Indian-claimed McMahon Line in NEFA and the traditionally claimed MacDonald Line in Aksai Chin.
Simultaneously, external forces began to influence the Border War situation. Russia, India's supporter through the 1950s, was endorsing the Chinese peace proposal. But in early November, Russia was preoccupied with the Cuban Missile Crisis, and paid little attention to the Border War. Without Soviet support, India had courted support from both England and the United States; military supplies from both countries began arriving in early November. The Americans seemed eager to help India against the perceived menace of Communism; Washington also made plans to send a carrier task force to the Bay of Bengal.
The political activities continued. On November 8th, the Indian Parliament proclaimed a state of national emergency and adoped a resolution to "drive out the aggressors from the sacred soil of India." Through the first two weeks of November, China had refrained from any further assaults; Peking obviously wanted a diplomatic resolution. On November 14th, Nehru wrote another letter to Chou, again rejecting Chou's October 24th proposal, and again refuting any Chinese border claims. But the exchanges between the two countries and the external military support to India had produced no movement toward settlement or compromise. On November 14th, the fighting resumed again.
The Indians had withdrawn from Tawang on October 23rd. The initial withdrawls plan was to draw back to Bomdi La (see Map Ten, page 61), the northernmost point which would allow for a logistic buildup. But the withdrawal orders were almost immediately modified to a withdrawal only to, and defense of, Se La. Se La did appear to be a good defensible position: the only road to Bomdi La ran through Se La, Se La Pass dominated the road from Tawang, and there were dominating peaks on both sides of the Pass. At 14,000+ feet altitude, Se La was definitely "high ground." The problem, however, was the altitude: the weather was harsh, Se La was far from supplies in Bomdi La, and the altitude made air drop of supplies quite difficult. Even if Se La was strongly defended, the Indians knew that they must simultaneously prepare to defend Bomdi La, for they now realized that the Chinese were not a road-bound fighting force. The decision to hold Se La committed the Indians to an extended area, from Se La to Bomdi La, over sixty miles of high-altitude, difficult road.
Over the next several days, the Se La-Bomdi La defense began to form. Se La was sporadically supplied by air. The Indian Government had considered tactical air operations against Chinese positions, but ruled out air strikes because of fear of Chinese retaliation. A supply and manpower buildup began in NEFA. But there was no Chinese attack during the first two weeks of November; and when the first new assault came, it was far from Se La.
The Eleventh Brigade of the Second Division took over the Walong sector on October 31st; the Eleventh was the third unit in ten days to be assigned responsibility for Walong (because of the numerous changes in command). The Walong detachment of three infantry battalions was not, however, preparing for a defense. Even though Chinese strength at Rima (see Map Seven page 27) was estimated at a Division, the Walong force was planning to attack the Chinese on November 14th, Nehru's birthday. General Kaul had planned a "first major success against the enemy" as a birthday present to Nahru.
On November 14th, two companies of the Kumaon battalion, supported by mortars and artillery, launched an assault against a strategic hill held by company of Chinese fire, then stopped fifty yards from the crest, exhausted. A Chinese night counter-attack cleared the Indians off the hill. The survivors-less than half the attacking force--returned to Walong. The Chinese followed the retreating Indians and penetrated the main Indian defenses. Indian artillery could not assist the defense; all rounds had been used in the attack on the Chinese hill. Key defensive points were overrun, and a withdrawal was ordered at 10 a.m. on November 16th. But many of the Indian troops did not receive the order, and fought to the death at their positions. The remnants of the Walong brigade withdrew down Lohit Valley; even in withdrawal, many died either from ambushes or from privation. The Chinese did not pursue the retreating troops further. The withdrawing General Kaul sent a rather frantic message to New Delhi:
The enemy strength is now so great and his overall strength so superior that you should ask the highest authorities to get such foreign armed forces to come to our aid as are willing to do so. . . . it seems beyond the capability of our armed forces to stem the tide of the superior Chinese forces which he has and will continue to concentrate against us to our disadvantage. This is not a counsel of fear, but facing stark realities.2
Only hours after the Walong defeat, fighting would resume in both Aksai Chin and Se La.
In Ladakh, the Western Command continued a steady buildup of forces. By mid-November, a brigade was in place at Chushul (Chusul). Some of the forces were at Chushul village and airport, west of the Chinese claim line (see Map Twelve, next page). Some of the Indian defenses were to the east of the claim line; in fact, the forces east of Chushul were the only Indian forces left in Chinese-claimed territory in Aksai Chin; all other Indian posts in Chinese-claimed territory had been either withdrawn or wiped out. Western Command had made Chushul key terrain as a blocking point between the Chinese and the city of Leh. It is notable that the positions around Chushul were at 14,000-16,000 feet altitude: there was no wood for fires or for constructing bunkers, frozen ground had to be blasted for entrenchments, and even acclimatized troops could work only for short periods. Yet, some strong Indian positions were in place by November 17th.
Chinese reconnaissance patrols were visible east of Chushul in mid-November, but no fire was exchanged. On November 17th, a strong Chinese force moved westward toward Chushul. And in the early hours of November 18th, Chinese artillery Click here to view image opened fire on Indian outposts. Mortars and rockets also softened the Indian entrenchments. The Chinese attempted a frontal infantry attack, but it was repelled. Soon, though, the Chinese moved to envelop the Indian positions. In heavy fighting, the Chinese rear and flank attacks were successful. The casualties were heavy for the Indians; one company had only three survivors--the remainder was found fronzen as they died weapons in hand. The Chinese suffered heavy casualties, too. Five hours into the attack, the Chinese had overrun, or forced the evacuation of, every Indian position east of the claim line. The withdrawing Indians regrouped as best they could in the village (and heights behind) Chushul. But the Chinese attack on Chushul village never came; the Chinese stopped at their claim line and did not assault Chushul itself. The War in the western sector was over. Not a single Indian force remained within the Chinese-claimed territory. By the end of November 18th, all of Aksai Chin was in Chinese hands.
In the Se La-Bomdi La sector of NEFA, a steady Indian buildup continued. By November 17th, Fouth Division had ten infantry battalions and some supporting arms--mortars, artillery, and twelve tanks. Concentrated, it could have been a formidable defense; but the force was spread out over the 60 twisty miles of road between Se La and Bomdi La, with the commander and main defenses at Se La. Five battalions were at Se La; three, at Bomdi La; and two were at Dirange Dzong*, halfway between. The commander, Brigadier Hosair Singh, soon established his headquarters at the Dzong. Dirang Dzong was poorly suited for defenses; but the Indians intended strong defenses at Se la and Bomdi La, both of which were well surrounded by hill masses. The defense might have been more successful--if the Chinese had been limited to the road. But * A Dzong is a Tibetan monastery-fortress. there were trails--most notably the Bailey Trail (see Map Thirteen, below). Click here to view image
Captain F. M. Bailey had explored into Tibet in 1913; his work helped McMahon to draw his boundary line. Bailey had made his way from Tulung La to Lap, and thence through Tse La Pass and southward. The 1962 Indian forces soon came to realize that the Chinese could use the Trail that Bailey had used half a century before. If the Chinese did come down Bailey Trail, they would emerge at Thembang, between Dirang Dzong and Bomdi La. Such a Chinese move would cut off Dirang Dzong and Se La. Yet, despite this, there remained the underlying Indian faith that the Chinese would not attack.
A few blocking forces were sent out in early November: a company to Phutang and a platoon sent up the Bailey Trail to Poshing La. As November advanced, more attention was given to Bailey Trail. Three more platoos--now making a company--were dispatched to Poshing La.
On November 15th, the Chinese--probably a battalion--attacked the company at Poshing La. Radio reports indicated that the Chinese had wiped out the Indian force. But Headquarters could not believe that the Chinese could bring a full battalion down the mountain trail, and a second company from Bomdi La was sent up Bailey Trail. A third company was brought from Bomdi La to Dirang Dzong. By November 16th, the three battalions stationed at Bomdi La was cut to half strenght.
The second company sent to Bailey Trail dug in at Tembang (Thembang) on the morning of November 17th. A Chinese force of about 1500 attacked the company soon after midday. The Indians resisted for three hours, inflicting heavy Chinese casualties. But logistics problems struck again: the Indians began to run out of ammunition. With darkness falling, the Indian company began to withdraw. But in the darkness and in thick vegetation, and orderly withdrawal soon turned into chaotic flight. None of the company returned to Bomdi La; weeks later, stragglers began appearing on the plains to the south. Again the superior strength of the Chinese and the logistic problems of the Indians had lead to another Indian defeat. But now, the Chinese had cut the road between Bomdi La and Dirang Dzong; about 10,000 Indian troops were northwest of the Chinese road block (see Map Thirteen, page 71).
There was a brief (and almost the only) bright moment for the Indians on November 17th. Simultaneous with the Bailey Trail action, the Chinese had launched an attack on Se La. But Se La was well defended; between dawn and midafternoon, the Chinese launched five assaults on Se La, and five times they were repulsed. With five battalions plus artillery, the Se La force was strong--until its main supply route was cut off when the Chinese took Thembang.
Were the Indians at Se La to hold and continue defending, supplied by air? Or should the force withdraw, and if so could it break through the Chinese roadblock? Meanwhile, the Headquarters position at Dirang Dzong, pooly defended, was in jeapordy. Brigadier Singh, commander at Se La, requested guidance from General Kaul.
But General Kaul was still flying around the lost battle at Walong. General P. N. Thapar, Chief of Army Staff, and General Sen, Commander in Chief of Eastern Command, were both at Kaul's headquarters. They both declined to give orders or guidance, deferring instead to General Kaul. An urgent operational decision was needed, but it waited until 7:30 p.m. when Kaul returned.
By the time General Kaul returned that evening (November 17th), there were reports that the Chinese had begun an enveloping movement at Se La and threatened to cut the road between Se La and Dirang Dzong. After a half hour meeting of the three highest ranking officers of the Indian Army, General Kaul issued his order: all units were to pull back from Se La and Dirang Dzong to Bomdi La.
But immediate further discussions amongst the generals resulted in a modification to Kaul's order. The highlights of the new order were as follows:
You will hold on to your present positions to the best of your ability. When the position becomes untenable I delegate the authority to you to withdraw to any alternative position you can hold. . . . You may be cut off by the enemy. . . . Your only course is to fight it out as best you can.3
The wording of this order hardly constituted clear guidance.
General A. S. Pathania, commander of 65 Brigade at Dirang Dzong, ordered a withdrawl to the plains to the south. Going through Phutang, he himself withdrew. He had hurriedly ordered his tanks to try to fight through to Bomdi La; if the crews could not, they were to abandon their tanks and head for the plains. But no one took command of the force--two infantry battalions, some tanks, some artillery, and headquarters personnel--left at Dirang Dzong. A few field grade officers (who did not know that withdrawal was ordered) attempted to organize the forces and fight toward Bomdi La. But Chinese forces and ambushes quickly ended the attempt. The survivors straggled southward to the plains. General Pathania would resign soon after the ceasefire.
Good control was maintained over the initial withdrawal from Se La; the Indians cleared the first Chinese found behind Se La. But ahead, the Indian column came under heavy machine gun fire. Attempts to knock out Chinese gun positions failed; the road was impassable. Under heavy Chinese fire, the retreating troops headed chaotically south for the plains. In their retreat, many were killed or captured.
By mid-morning of November 18th, the 48 Brigade--six rifle companies at Bomdi La--was the only Indian Army force left in NEFA. The six companies were dug into defensive positions that had been designed for three battalions. They had artillery and mortars, and were expecting reinforcements.
But poor command/control/communications again struck the Indians. At 11 a.m., General Kaul--not knowing that Dirang Dzong was now abandoned--ordered a mobile column (at Bomdi La) to move out to reinforce Dirang Dzong. Brigadier Singh protested that such a move would weaken Bomdi La. But Kaul angrily ordered tow infantry companies, with tanks and artillery, to move out onto the winding road to Dirang Dzong. Support personnel--cooks and clerks--were ordered to aid in the defense of Bomdi La.
The Chinese attacked about ten minutes after the column left. The first attack was beaten off. The infantry in the column was quickly ordered back to their defensive positions; but these were already occupied by the Chinese, and the Indians were caught in the open. A second, stronger Chinese assault followed. Many Indian positions were overrun, and the Chinese brought fire onto the Brigade headquarters; attempts to counterattack failed. By 4 p.m., Singh ordered a withdrawal to Rupa, eight miles to the south.
The Brigade began to organize a defense around Rupa on the night of Novemeber 18th. Then, Singh received orders from IV Corps to withdraw to Foothills, just above the plains. As he began his withdrawal, he received orders from General Kaul to defend Rupa! Turning back, he found that the Chinese were already taking up positions around Rupa; thus, defense of Rupa was impossible. His 48 Brigade was then ordered to Chaku, the next defensible position down the road. The Chinese harrassed the withdrawing troops, and then broke contact. The Brigade, now only one battalion in size, reached Chaku on the evening of November 19th. The Chinese struck at midnight, on three sides. The Chinese had attacked an ammunition supply train, and burning vehicles illuminated the Indian defensive positions. The Brigade broken, scattered groups made their way southward to the plains. Remaining Indian command elements were headed far to the south.
With the disintegration of 48 Brigade at 3 a.m. on November 20th, no organized Indian military force was left in NEFA (nor in Aksai Chin). Militarily, the Chinese victory was complete, and the Indian defeat absolute.
Late on the evening of November 20th, prime Minister Nehru made an urgent and open appeal to the United States for armed intervention against the Chinese; he asked for bomber and fighter squadrons to begin air strikes on Chinese troops in Indian territory "if they continued to advance" and cover for Indian cities "in case the Chinese air force tried to raid them." An American carrier was dispatched toward the Bay of Bengal; but the aircraft carrier was ordered back on November 21st. The victorious Chinese had ordered a ceasefire effective midnight, November 21, 1962.
On November 20, 1962, India and the world speculated about the nature and aims of the Chinese attack. They had rapidly eliminated all Indian military in all disputed frontier territories (Aksai Chin and NEFA). Would China continue attacking toward India proper? A worried India's November 20th request for an American aircraft carrier had been approved.
Dramatically, on November 20th, Chou Enlai publically announced a ceasefire. Actually, Chou had given the details of the ceasefire to the Indian charge d'affaires in Peking on the evening of November 19th (before India's request for United States air strikes), but New Delhi did not receive the report for over 24 hours. The ceasefire proclaimed that
Beginning from . . . .0000 on November 21, 1962, the Chinese frontier guards will cease fire along the entire Sino-Indian border. Beginning from December 1st, 1962, the Chinese frontier guards will withdraw to positions 20 kilometers behind the line of actual control which existed between China and India on November 7th, 1959. In the eastern sector, although the Chinese frontier guards have so far been fighting on Chinese territory north of the traditional customary line*, they are prepared to withdraw from their present positions to the north of the illegal McMahon Line, and to withdraw twenty kilometers back from that line. In the middle and western sectors, the Chinese frontier guards will withdraw twenty kilometers from the line of actual control.1
*The pre-McMahon line along the foot of the hills. Chou had simply restated the compromise that he had been offering for over three years: India could keep the disputed territory north to the McMahon Line in NEFA, but China would keep the disputed territory in Aksai Chin. Of the 47,000 square miles of disputed border land, Chou's ceasefire gave a full 68% (the 32,000 square miles of NEFA) to India, and kept only 32% (the 15,000 miles of Aksai Chin) for China! Rather than the "victor keeping the spoils," Peking kept only what was strategically vital: the area surrounding her critical military road in Aksai Chin. Chou's ceasefire dictum made it clear that the Indians would keep their troops twenty kilometers back from the ceasefire line, and that China "reserved the right to strike back" if India did not do so.
On the NEFA front, the November 21st ceasefire was a formality. Organized fighting had ended two days before with the breakup of 48 Brigade at Chaku. The two sides had generally ceased to be in contact anywhere in the eastern sector, and there had been no Chinese followup after either Chaku or Walong. Some Indian troops who had been outflanked by the Chinese had skirmishes, with casualties, as they withdrew to the south; these retreating soldiers had no knowledge of the ceasefire, and the Chinese may have ignored the ceasefire when retreating Indians fired on them.
In Aksai Chin, the ceasefire was more definitive. The Chinese had not advanced on Chushul, and all firing ceased at the given time. The Indian force at Chushul was still in a fighting posture, ready to defend if the Chinese advanced. The Indians even sent out some patrols. But there was no more fighting in Aksai Chin.
Indian troops in Ladakh remained in defensive posture. But on the plains below NEFA, the Indian Army was cautions. A new brigade there was ordered to keep back from the hills, to make no provocations, and to avoid patrol clashes. Indian survivors of NEFA battles emerged onto the plains for several weeks; the trek back was very arduous, and many died from exposure on the way back.
China clearly expected India to keep her forces twenty kilometers south of the lines of control specified in the ceasefire. Nehru could not admit defeat, and publicly would continue to refuse China's terms. But privately, Nehru told Chou that Indian forces would conform with the ceasefire.2
The Chinese started withdrawing on December 1st, as per the ceasefire. In NEFA, they withdrew north of the McMahon Line. In Aksai Chin, they withdrew as agreed, but set up strong check points and posts to ensure their position.
The Chinese then began repatriating Indians through Bomdi La. The sick and wounded were returned during December, 1962. Other prisoners of war were returned over the next six months. At one point, Nehru had announced that 6,277 Indian soldiers were captured or missing. India's casualties for the Border War were finally reported as follows:
India released no figures for Wounded, but casualties were high.
China released no casualty figures.
The Border War and the ceasefire brought many changes and many implications to both India and the world. The political and military climate in southern Asia was dramatically changed in the last three months of 1962. India recognized many of the weaknesses in her Army; and many lessons--still relevant today--emerged from the 1962 Border War.
Nations continue to go to war, especially if negotiations yield no compromise, over issues that are strategically important to them. India had long been concerned about maintaining a buffer zone between her and her powerful neighbors--Russia and China--to the north. China not only felt that Aksai Chin was legitimately hers (especially with little or no Indian presence in the area to indicate otherwise), but she was also adamant about the area because of the strategically important military highway which bisected it. There may well have been room for compromise over these issues, but stubbornness and India's aggressive forward policy resulted in armed conflict. World leaders must heed other nations' stated vital strategic objectives.
Assumptions are dangerous. Nehru's assumption that China would not confront Indian troops and would passively retreat caused Nehru to pursue a very assertive forward policy of thrusting troops and border patrols into-and sometimes even beyond--disputed frontier areas. His assumptions and resulting policy eventually brought retaliation from China. Assumptions are still dangerous; hypotheses about one's enemy must be validated by accurate intelligence.
Ignoring the advice of senior, experienced army officers was disastrous for India. Many officers had warned Nehru that India was poorly prepared for war with China: they were relieved or replaced, their advice ignored. Leaders may believe what they want to believe, but foolishly discounting the counsel of experts may lead them to disaster.
Intelligence and appropriate interpretation of intelligence is vital; only valid information--not assumptions--is important to military planning. India seemed almost totally unaware that she was heavily outnumbered along the border and that China (unlike India) was well prepared logistically and well versed in alpine warfare tactics. Both sides used reconnaissance patrols, but battle results would indicate that China had good intelligence and used it to good advantage. One must "know your enemy."
Logistic readiness is vital to any military operation. India was very poorly prepared logistically, especially for cold weather and mountain operations. On several occasions, India ran out of ammunition or was otherwise unable to sustain herself. The Chinese had stockpiled supplies in Tibet, and had the manpower to keep the front well supplied. The Border War's mountain operations were relatively slow moving. Today, high mobility will make proper logistic support even more crucial.
Similarly, India was neither trained nor prepared for alpine warfare. Until Nehru's assertive forward policy was initiated, few Indian soldiers had operated in mountain areas. Altitudes above 14,000 feet can be frigid even in summer. In October and November, many Indian soldiers had only summer uniforms and jackets to warm them. Many Indians died not from combat, but from exposure. Today's military forces must be prepared for operations in any locale or climate, from hot arid deserts to frozen mountain slopes.
Generalship, leadership, command and control are always important. Even though defeated in Aksai Chin, the Indian forces in Western Command always deemed well organized and led. But in NEFA, there was often confusion; numerous command changes resulted in disorganization and poor combat readiness. Poor communications and control resulted in troop movements which were totally inappropriate, such as sending out forces to positions which had already been overrun. General Kaul often ignored or disputed the advice of his junior generals; further, he was often indecisive, changing orders minutes after they had been issued. Immediately after the ceasefire, General Kaul was relieved; days later, he would resign from the army. Today's lethal firepower and high mobility make command, control and communications more vital than ever.
Hopefully, future military and political leaders will study the causes and the lessons learned from this Border War. And hopefully, they will learn.
The 1962 China-India Border War was a major dispute between two third world states that went to war over strategic frontier and border issues. The War would have significant implications for politics, strategy, and military power in southern Asia.
India was decisively defeated in the Border War. But in many ways, India gained benefits from the 1962 conflict. The war united the country as never before. The communist party in India lost what little strength it had. India did get 32,000 square miles of disputed territory--even if she felt that NEFA was hers all along. The new Indian republic had avoided international alignments; by asking for during the war, India demonstrated her willingness to accept military aid from several sectors. And, finally, India recognized the serious weaknesses in her Army. She would more than double her military manpower in the next two years; and she would work hard to resolve the military's training and logistic problems. India's efforts to improve her military posture significantly enhanced her army's capabilities and preparedness.
The War would also have significant impact on India's relationship with Pakistan (which then bordered India on two sides, east and west). Seeing that India was militarily weak after the Border War, Pakistan felt that she was in a favorable position to reslove lingering border disputes in Kashmir. China was friendly toward Pakistan, and Pakistani leaders believed that China might support them in a dispute with India. When India reorganized and built up her Army, Pakistan became quite alarmed. In 1965, India and Pakistan would fight a border war in Kashmir.
China had easily won a military victory on the ground. But Peking may have lost in terms of its international image. Western nations, especially the United States, were already suspicious of Chinese attitudes, motives and actions; after all, People's Republic leader Mao had stated that "The way to world conquest lies through Havana, Accra, and Calcutta."1 These western nations, including a suspicious United States, appeared to minimize, or not fully to understand, the ChinaIndia dispute background: that China believed that Aksai Chin had been legally Chinese since 1899 or before, that no official boundary had been agreed upon between the two nations, and that Nehru's "forward policy" had thrusted troops even beyond India's claim line into Tibetan/Chinese territory. These same nations saw China's goals as monolithic intent on world conquest, and clearly viewed China as the aggressor in the Border War. China's first nuclear weapon test in October, 1964, and her support of Pakistan in the 1965 India-Pakistan Bordr War tended ot confirm the American view of monolithic communist world objectives, including Chinese influence (if not expansionism) over Pakistan.
Yet, an examination of China's international objectives, since the Communists came to power in 1949, shows a pattern of conservative aims and limited objectives, rather than expansionism. China's role in the Korea Conflict was not simply to assist North Korea, but also to protect herself again assault from anti-Communist western forces.
China's actions in Tibet in 1950 were viewed by India as blatant aggression; but China saw her move into Tibet as simply reuniting what is "traditionally Chinese" territory.
The 1962 Border War, again, had only the objective of keeping what was "traditionally Chinese"; otherwise, why would have China given all of NEFA back to India?
In 1979, China feared increasing anti-Chinese attitude in Viet Nam. When Viet Nam invaded Kampuchea--and after much preplanning and thought--China launched a limited objective assault, to punish Viet Nam. Thus, the People's Republic of China has been historically non-expansionistic.
But we should not, on the other hand, be totally lulled into a false sense of security about China's non-expansionism. Remembering that nations will go to war over strategically (including economically) important issues, we must remain alert to China's rapidly expanding population and accompanying need for food to feed her hungry. Where will China get rice to give to her billion-plus numbers? To answer this, we must not forget another lesson of this Border War: China intends-eventually--to reclaim what is "traditionally Chinese." An examination of Map Fourteen (next page) gives a possible answer to China need for food, should that need arise: the "traditional China" includes all of South East Asia!
Thus, the lessons and implications of the 1962 China-India Border War could be relevant to us for decades or for centuries.....
March 14, 1899 - Sir Claude McDonald proposed an Aksai Chin boundary
1914 - McMahon Line declared as boundary in NEFA
1947 - India becomes a republic separate from Great Britain
1949 - Communists form new government, People's Republic of China
October, 1950 - Chinese assert authority over Tibet
April, 1954 - India and China sign "Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence"
December, 1954 - Tribesmen discontent in Tibet leads to increased Chinese military presence in Tibet
March, 1956 - China begins construction of a military highway to link Sinkiang and Tibet
September 1957 - India first learns of the Chinese highway in "India's territory"
March, 1959 - rebel fighting in Tibet heightens, with rebels crossing into NEFA to get supplies and weapons
August, 1959 - first clashes between Chinese and Indian border guards
1960 - unproductive diplomatic exchanges, but no clashes
1961 - Nehru sends troops and border patrols into disputed frontier areas to establish outposts; skirmishes increased in late 1961
December, 1961 - India invades and takes Portugese Goa
July, 1962 - Skirmishes in Aksai Chin
August 4, 1962 - China accuses India of advancing even north of the McMahon Line
August, 1962 - Chinese logistic and manpower buildup along the frontier
September, 1962 - isolated skirmishes along the disputed border
October 5, 1962 - India forms special Border Command under General Kaul
October 10, 1962 - first heavy fighting, at Tseng-Jong in NEFA
October 20, 1962 - Chinese launch a massive assault across the Namka Chu River in NEFA
October 20-21, 1962 - Chinese launch simultaneous attacks in Aksai Chin, successful against Galwan Valley and Chip Chap Valley posts
October 23, 1962 - Chinese overrun all posts down to Tawang in NEFA
October 24-25, 1962 - Chinese probing attacks at Walong, in eastern NEFA
Late October, 1962 - lull in fighting; unproductive diplomatic efforts at compromise fail; numerous changes in command in NEFA Indian units
November 14, 1962 - Nehru's birthday - Indians launch an attack on Chinese north of Walong
November 15, 1962 - the Indian offensive fails
November 16, 1962 - Chinese troops overrun Walong
November 17, 1962 - Chinese attack Indians on Bailey Trail in NEFA; a Chinese attack at Se La, NEFA, is repulsed; Chinese begin a simultaneous attack on Chushul in Aksai Chin
November 18, 1962 - Chinese successful at Chushul; no Indian force remains in Aksai Chin; Indian forces are forced to withdraw from Se La; Chinese forces attack Bomdi La
November 19, 1962 - Chinese attack Chaku, last Indian forces in NEFA, successfully; Chou En-Lai gives ceasefire dictum to Indian official in Peking
November 20, 1962 - Chou publicly announces ceasefire; India requesting U. S. military aid, but ceasefire ends need for U. S. intervention
November 21, 1962 - Ceasefire goes into effect
December 1, 1962 - both sides' troops withdraw 20 kilometers from new boundary lines; repatriation of prisoners starts
Capt. F.M. BAILEY - explored NEFA in 1913
CHOU En-Lai - Prime Minister of People's Republic of China before and during Border War
Lord CURZON - Viceroy of British India 1899-1905
Brigadier John DALVI - commanded 7th Brigade
Lord ELGIN - Viceroy of British India 1894-1899
W. H. JOHNSON - surveyor who suggested Aksai Chin boundary
General B. M. KAUL - Chief of General Staff, then Commander of IV Corps
Sir Henry McMAHON - Foreign Secretary of the Indian Government, and Chief Delegate to 1914 Simla Conference
Jawaharlal NEHRU - Prime Minister of India
General A. S. PATHANIA - Commander of 4 Division and 62 Brigade
General M. S. PATHANIA - Commander of 2 Division (Walong)
General Niranjan PRASAD - Commanded 4 Division
General L. P. SEN - Commanding General, Eastern Command
General Daulet SINGH - Commanding General, Western Command
Brigadier Gurbax SINGH - Commanded 7 Brigade
General Harbaksh SINGH - took over IV Corps
Brigadier Hoshair SINGH - Commanded 62 Brigade; killed in war
General Umrao SINGH - Commander of XXXIII Corps
General P. N. THAPAR - Commanded Western Command; then Chief of Army Staff
Chapter 1 Historic Roots - Early Border Claims
1 Lamb, Alastair. The China-India Border. London: Oxford Univ., 1964. Lamb, Alastair. The Sino-Indian Border in Ladakh. Canberra: Australian National Univ. Press, 1973. Both books give thorough overviews of the 19th Century roots of the border claims and disputes.
2 Rowland, John. A History of Sino-Indian Relations. Princeton, NJ: Van Nostrand, 1967. p. xi.
3 Lamb, 1964, op. cit., p. 43-44 gives detailed critical analysis of early boundary claims.
4 Ibid., p. 44-45, quoting F. Drew, 1871 Governor of Ladakh.
5 Ibid., p. 101.
6 Ibid., p. 103, quoting Lord Elgin, Viceroy of British India.
7 Ibid., p. 104, portions of the MacDonald proposal. The entire MacDonald note is in Lamb, 1964, p. 180-182.
8 Maxwell, Neville. India's China War. New York: Pantheon, 1970. Emphasizes the importance of buffer zones rather than specific territorial claim, p. 38.
9 Lamb, 1964, op. cit., p. 119-121, indications that the British considered Tawang to be Tibetan.
10 Ibid., p. 131-134. 1904-1905 British intentions toward Tibet.
11 Ibid., p. 137-139. British intentions to project power north of Assam.
12 Ibid., p. 145. Lamb asserts that the Simla Conference was indeed a British trick, denying rights to the Chinese.
13 Ibid., p. 162. Again asserts that Tawang is Tibetan.
Chapter II Movement to Conflict - Failure of Negotiations
1 Carver, Michael. War Since 1945. New York: Putnam's Sons, 1980. Quoting Chou En-Lai, on p. 215.
2 Hinton, Harold. Communist China in World Politics. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1966. Quoting Chou En-Lai, on p. 284.
3 Carver, op. cit., p. 217, states that Longju is north of the McMahon Line. Hinton, op. cit., p. 289, puts Longju in disputed territory.
4 Maxwell, op. cit., p. 110-111, reporting controversy about Konga La Pass clash.
5 Hinton, op. cit., p. 291. Chou's frequent proposal, and Nehru's rejection.
6 Ibid., p. 295. Nehru's emerging aggressive attitude.
Chapter III The Combatants: The Chinese and Indian Armies in 1962
1 Gurtov, Melvin and Hwang, Byong-Moo. China Under Threat. Baltimore a Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1980. pp. 113-114, on the state of the Chinese army.
2 Blainey, Geoffrey. The Causes of War. New York: The Free Press, 1973, p. 50.
3 Maxwell, op. cit., p. 353, effects of the elements on Indian troops.
Chapter IV Summer 1962 Skirmishes
1 Watt, D. C. Survey of International Affairs 1962. London: Oxford Univ., 1970, pp. 406-408. Early 1962 diplomatic exchanges.
Chapter V The Border War
1 Maxwell, op. cit., p. 354, asserts that Tsang Le was in Bhutan.
2 Ibid., p. 394. General Kaul's frantic message quoted.
3 Ibid., p. 403. Quoting General Kaul's orders.
Chapter VI Ceasefire
1 Ibid., p. 417. Quoting Chou's ceasefire dictum.
2 Carver, op. cit., p. 222
Chapter VII Conclusions
1 Rowland, op. cit., p. xv. Quoting Chairman Mao Tse-Tung.
2 Ibid., Chinese Map between p. 144 and p. 145.
Bhargava, G. S. The Battle of NEFA. Bombay: Allied, 1964.
A thorough, but Indian-biased, account of the 1962 Border War, specifically the portion fought in the North East Frontier Agency.
Blainey, Geoffrey. The Causes of War. New York: The Free Press, 1973.
An overview or the strategic reasons that bring nations to war.
Carver, Michael. War Since 1945. New York: Putnam's Sons, 1980.
A military history of the world from World War II until the 1970s. Provides a general understanding of the forces that bring nations to war, and brief synopses of about a dozen conflicts.
Defense Intelligence Agency. Handbook on the Chinese Armed Forces. DIA, 1976.
A comprehensive handbook covering Chinese army doctrine, organization, equipment, tactics, specialized warfare, personnel and logistics. Also covers the Chinese Navy, Air Force and Missile Systems.
Numerous figures, photographs, and illustrations. An excellent resource.
Fisher, Margaret W., Rose, Leo E., & Huttenback, Robert A. Himalayan Battleground. New York: Praeger, 1963.
A comprehensive history of Ladakh from ancient times up to--but not including--the 1962 Border War.
Earles, Marcie. The Strategy of Mao, Tse-tung in the Sino-Indian Border Dispute. Quantico: Marine Corps Command and Staff College, 1968.
A brief look at Communist philosophical and political considerations impacting on Sino-Indian relations.
Encyclopaedia Britannica. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1967.
General area background information.
Gurtov, Melvin, and Hwang, Byong-Moo. China Under Threat. Baltimore a Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1980.
An analysis of China's perspective on world politics and international relations. Includes a synopsis, from China's view, of the 1962 Border War.
Halpern A. W. Policies Toward China. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1965.
International view of China's policies and Chinese reaction to international developments affecting China.
Hinton, Harold. Communist China in World Politics. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1966.
A comprehensive analysis of China's political and diplomatic relations—including negotiations and interactions between Chou and Nehru.
Johnson, Dan. An Appraisal of Chinese Communist Strategy toward India and Pakistan. Carlisle Barracks, Penn.: U.S. Army War College, 1966.
A brief view of China's policies and role in southern Asia.
Lamb, Alastair. The China-India Border. London: Oxford Univ., 1964.
A thorough, objective study of the origins of border disputes, in both Aksai Chin and NEFA, between British India and China (until 1947). Carefully documented, with many helpful maps.
Lamb, Alastair. The Sino-Indian Border in Ladakh. Canberra: Australian National Univ. Press, 1973.
A comprehensive, objective analysis of Chinese and British Indian border claims in Ladakh (Aksai Chin). Carefully documented, with numerous helpful maps.
Maxwell, Neville. India's China War. New York:Pantheon, 1970.
Probably the most thorough, comprehensive and objective coverage of the 1962 Border War. Covers the historical background, rising conflicts, Nehru's forward Policy, the perspective from Peking, the Border War, and the ceasefire. By extensive documentation, Maxwell not only traces the history of the war, but also gives insights into the many key personalities. Only has six maps--could have used more.
Rand McNally World Atlas. Chicago: Rand McNally, 1968.
Maps, population, and area figures.
Rowland, John. A History of Sino-Indian Relations. Princeton, NJ: Van Nostrand, 1967.
A comprehensive, objective analysis of relations from early times through the Border War. Covers key events, and looks at personalities and strategic interests.
Sinha, Satyanarayan. China Strikes. London: Blandford, 1964.
A highly personalized and biased look at the Border War.
Stoessinger, John. Why Nations Go To War. New York: St. Martin's, 1974.
An overview of the strategic and political causes that bring nations to conflict.
Watt, D. C. Survey of International Affairs 1962. London: Oxford Univ., 1970.
A survey of major events of 1962.