| Arunachal War memorial |
Eleven years after it invaded Tibet, Peoples Republic of China on October 16, 1962, launched an attack on Himalayan India ended a long peaceful co-existence between the two Asian giants.
The short Sino-Indian war was triggered by a dispute over the Himalayan border in the Aksai Chin. The disputed area was strategic for China as it had a major road between Tibet and Xinjiang. Approximately 43,000 square kilometres of Indian territory remains under Chinese occupation.
CAUSES: ASKAI CHIN & FORWARD POSTS POLICY
Aiming to consolidate its hold in Tibet, China started developing infrastructure in Himalayan regions. A ring road was constructed which led from China to Tibet and from there via Karakorum Range to Sinkiang and Mongolia and then back to China. Indian Ladakh district of Askai Chin region of J&K obstructed the road and would have forced Chinese to build through the harsh Takla Makan desert. But, t
aking advantage of the point that they hadn't actually signed the agreement reached at Simla Conference, China published maps showing that Aksai Chin belonged to them. It refused the de-facto McMahon line in East of India that demarcated the border and control of the land. India discovered the road only in October 1958, triggering public outcry in the country.
|Chinese soldiers monitor Indian Army movements|
The two countries had fairly good relations through most of 1950s and even agreed on the famous 'Five Principles of Co-existence' in 1954. However, border tensions began to surface since 1956.
After the Chinese occupation of Tibet, Indian government adopted a policy of forward military posts in its areas bordering China. China reacted angrily, disputing India's claims about border areas.
Indian deployment was spread over a large
area and logistics were difficult to maintain, since the road network was poor. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had relied on US diplomatic support. However, in October, 1962, US attention was focused on Cuban Missile Crisis with Soviet Union.
| Indian soldiers at border|
Hostilities began on October 16, 1962. The Chinese said they were responding to Indian provocations.
On Oct 20, 1962, Chinese People's Liberation Army launched two major coordinated attacks 1000 km apart in the Chip Chap valley in Ladakh and the Namkachu river. After taking control of a substantial portion of the disputed territory, Chinese forces made an offer for talks on October 24. India rejected this offer and tried to regroup during the lull in the fighting.
By November 18, Chinese forces had penetrated close to the outskirts of Tezpur, Assam, a major frontier town nearly 50 km from
Assam-North-East Frontier Agency border. The Chinese didn't advance further and on November 21 declared a unilateral cease-fire. The US Air Force flew in massed supplies to India in November, 1962, but neither side wished to continue hostilities.
| Chinese at the border|
Results of the War
India's defeat in 1962 led to an overhaul of Indian Army in terms of doctrine, training, organisation and equipment.
Nehru Govt decided to take control of many territories that he saw as a source of espionage and resupply to potential enemies. In 1965 India seized Goa and the then-independent state of Sikkim.
LOAC Controversy, Status Quo Continues
Indians continue to regard territorial acquisitions by China as an illegal occupation. And so, the proposals to formalise Sino-Indian border at the Line Of Actual Control have not made any headway. However, both India and China don't want to disturb the status quo and the disputed boundary, called by Line of Actual Control or the McMahon Line is not considered a major flashpoint. Military commissions from India and China meet regularly to discuss the status of the border. The war also altered the course of the Cold War.