The 1962 war with India has been described as “a complete victory” and is often cited as a “lesson” taught to India.
Recently, from January 7, 2022, observersnews.com featured excerpts from a newly released book titled 《中印边境自卫反击作战一百问》(hundred questions on Counterattack in self defense along the China–India border) in a special file dedicated to the occasion of the 60and anniversary of the Sino-Indian border war. The book is written by Zhang Xiaokang, younger daughter of Zhang Guohua, the general who led the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) assault on Tibet in 1950-51, headed the committee that brokered the deal in 17 points over Tibet with China, and was the field commander of the PLA attack in the Eastern Sector during the 1962 India-China War. With the rise of nationalist fervors in China and the military confrontation prolonged in the western sector of the Indo-China border, the publication is another battle cry for the PLA after last year’s war film, The battle at Changjin Lake (Chosin Reservoir)《长津湖》and this year The battle at Changjin II Lake《水门桥》about the Korean War, in which China suffered heavy losses and three companies of PLA “volunteers” froze to death. In contrast, the 1962 war with India was described as “a complete victory” and often cited as a “lesson” taught to India. As for the choice to use the “counterattack in self-defense”, in the pure Confucian tradition of “rectification of names”, the decision was made on December 3, 1962, according to the article.
According to the three excerpts that appeared in Chinese media, the book is mainly inspired by official and unofficial stories about the India-China war such as 《中印边境自卫反击战争史》 (History of the Chinese counter-attack in self-defense along the Sino-Indian border), 《中印大战纪实1962》 (Records of the 1962 Sino-Indian War),《喜马拉雅山的雪》 (Himalayan snow) published in the 1990s. According to the first article published on January 7, 2022, in order to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the “self-defense counterattack” on the Sino-Indian border, Zhang Xiaokang organized scholars of the history of the war to compile this book based on raw information and interviews with veterans who had participated in the war. He says that although considerable time has passed, the war has not been forgotten over time. In China, the article states that “generations of soldiers and military enthusiasts have always shown a keen interest in the counterattack operation” of 1962, and wondered how it was possible for the PLA “to annihilate more than seven brigades of the most powerful forces of the Indian army“. elite forces in just a few days”, and a few other questions such as why the PLA “withdrew unilaterally on VE Day”, why the PLA “released Indian POWs and surrendered their arms and equipment” and many more are asked and answered perhaps along the lines of extant literature. The article attempted to understand the background of the war from three facets, namely, “the direction of the operation and the command structure”, “the stages of the operation and the deployment of the troops”, and “the result of the operation and the strategic importance”.
The “counterattack” operation, according to Article 1, was carried out under the unified command of Chairman Mao and the Central Military Commission along the two strategic directions of the eastern (1,100 kilometers) and western (600 kilometers) fronts. ). The frontline command post of the Tibet Military Region was located in Ma Magou, Cuona County of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) headed by Zhang Guohua. The post coordinated with Lhasa, the base command center of the Tibet Military Region headed by Tan Guansan. The frontline command was located at Banggang, north of Tawang. It also gives details of other members associated with operations at different levels. In the western sector, the command center of the Xinjiang Military Region was in Kangxiwa led by He Jiachan. The combat operation along the western front was divided into four defense areas, namely Tiantian, Heweitan, Kongkashankou and Ali defense areas.
Operations are divided into two stages, from October 20, 1962 to November 18, 1962, and the closing dates are different along the two sectors. The directions for fighting in the eastern sector were mainly in the Kejielang (Khinzemane) and Tawang areas under Unit 419 (equivalent to 1 Infantry Division) and Auxiliary Operations under Chamdo Linzhi and Shannan Military Divisions. The direction of operations on the western front was under the unified command of the 3rd battalion of the 10th infantry regiment of the 4th army division, the 3rd battalion of the 11th infantry regiment, the 3rd cavalry regiment and the 2nd infantry regiment. ‘infantry. The deployment of the troops, according to the article, succeeded in wiping out each of the four battalions of the 114th Indian Infantry Brigade and driving them out of the 37 strongholds of the “occupied territories”. In the second stage, the main battle campaigns were, Xishankou-Bandila (Bomdilla) and Walong and some other smaller campaigns carried out by Nyingchi’s military division in places such as Mechuka and Rimi, Jin and Bolang, etc., areas , thus restoring the “traditional customary line”. In the western sector, the six remaining strongholds of the Indian Army were also subsequently destroyed.
As for deaths, these remain the same as those reported by earlier official accounts of the war. Indian dead and captured were 4,885 and 3,968 respectively, while PLA dead and wounded were put at 722 and 1,697 respectively. The battles of Kejielang and Xishankou-Bandila were considered “big victories at a small cost” (以小的代价夺取了大的胜利), accounting for 79% of the annihilation rate of Indian forces. The murder of Brigadier Hoshiar Singh and the capture of Brigadier John Dalvi also feature prominently in the narrative. The dramatic capture of Brigadier Dalvi was recounted in the third article published on January 21, 2022, a few paragraphs of his Himalayan error were also reproduced. Dalvi reportedly said upon capture that “you eliminated a brigade in 24 hours, which is rare in the world”.
The statistics mentioned above have been believed to be authentic, however, if corroborated by PLA narration in other war histories, they are contradictory. Consider the following passage on the PLA campaign in the western sector of the Himalayan Snow: Records of the Sino-Indian War (1991) by Sun Xiao, a PLA officer: “…From the start of the war, the Indian Army’s firepower was extremely fierce. After two hours of fierce fighting, the Chinese army certainly occupied the Galwan Valley, but the price it paid was too heavy. 874 Chinese soldiers fell on the icy snow of this river valley. It wasn’t until the early 1980s that the bodies of more than 800 soldiers were brought back from the frozen snow. Regarding the assassination of Brigadier Hoshiar Singh, the official account of the 1962 war by S. N. Prasad (1992) indicates that he was ambushed by the Chinese on November 27, a few days after declaring the ceasefire. fire (p.194).
Regarding the outcome and significance of the 1962 war, the article says: Militarily it was a “complete victory” that “nullified the illegal McMahon line”, forced the traditional customary line, enhanced national prestige of China and peace along India. -The Chinese border has been established for the next 60 years. Politically, he “dealt a heavy blow to the regional hegemonism and expansionism of Nehru’s government”, forced India to abandon the stubbornness that “the question of the Sino-Indian border is not negotiable” (中印边界问题不谈判) and to engage in peaceful negotiations. negotiations on the border issue “in accordance with China’s proposal” (按照中国的主张). Diplomatically, he “completely exposed the pursuit of power politics” (奉行强权政治) by the Indian government, tore the veil of Nehru’s “non-alignment” (撕掉了尼赫鲁 “不结盟” 的面纱), and shattered his illusion of being the “leader of an alliance” (打破了其当 “盟主” 的梦幻). Furthermore, the PLA established a “huge psychological advantage” (巨大心理优势) over the Indian military, and “seized and maintained the initiative” (夺取和保持…主动权) on the Sino-Indian border. It also won China “high praise from peace-loving countries and people around the world, as well as a strong response from international public opinion.”
The essay refutes that it was the “Chinese India War” as pronounced by Bertil Lintner in his book, and thus the theory of the Chinese invasion of India. He also refutes the voluntary withdrawal of the PLA due to weak logistical support. It does not shed light on China’s three-year man-made famine and the struggle for power within the Communist Party, as the likes of Liu Shaoqi and Peng Dehuai pointed accusations at Mao for the man-made calamity that killed millions of Chinese, however, the article said that Deng Xiaoping wanted to buy time against Mao’s order, as he was concerned about the food situation in Tibet. However, Mao had already ordered to “annihilate” the Indian forces in Kejielang on October 8, because Tibet was treated as “sacred territory” belonging to China. The second article from January 14, 2022 reveals that the leaders had taken into consideration the possibility of China suffering setbacks in the war, and in case this becomes a reality, the PLA “will not blame heaven and earth but their own incompetence”, nevertheless, there will be a day when they will take it back.
As China consolidates its position and infrastructure in disputed border areas by building border villages and recently naming a few more places inside Arunachal, India is also likely to accelerate the pace of border infrastructure. . This, combined with China’s “continuum of competition” policy along disputed areas, can only create more friction points and exacerbate the already delicate situation. China’s deteriorating relationship with the United States, economic slowdown, domestic political constraints could lead to greater challenges for India, and India in turn may have to answer a hundred questions.
BR Deepak is a professor at the Center for Chinese and South Asian Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University.