LOVE HATE RELATIONSHIP OF INDIA AND CHINA
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
India loves China; China loves India = True or False? Indeed that is a quiz for the secondary education level boys and girls. The school children were a wee bit confused when confronted with this question like our national leaders of the Nehruvian School of Thought were. Both the children and adults of post-independence India had been brought up on the mental feed enriched by protein doses of slogans like Hindi-Cheeni Bhai-Bhai. The slogan did not reflect a factual position. It was just romantic fiction a la carte Sir Walter Scott of the Elizabethan era. Jawaharlal Nehru loved this fiction and nurtured it with his heart and soul. His counterpart in China, Chou-En-Lai had no such misgivings. A hard boiled Communist brought up on a diet of rock like realities of life where death stalked him at every bend of the mule track in the mountainous terrain in the Long March from the South to the North-West China, Chou was a Chinese gentleman to his finger tips – always non-committal. Jawaharlal Nehru was a gentleman born with a silver spoon in his mouth, educated in the United Kingdom to be a lawyer but plunged into the freedom movement to drive the British rulers out of the sacred soil of India through non-violent non-cooperation. Nehru and under his leadership, India loved Chou and China. Did Chou and China love Nehru and India? The international scenario and the border dispute on India-China border had a different tale to tell. Indeed it was a perfect picture portraying love-hate relationship. Picture perception is an art and intelligent artists were hard to come by.
By nature and temperament Chou and Nehru were Poles apart but they professed friendship of the first degree based on the cultural ties of the two countries that went beyond Buddha. So said Nehru on many ceremonial occasions when Chou just smiled. An enigmatic smile and equally enigmatic words that were difficult to interpret then. The pressmen noticed at times an undercurrent of one-upmanship between the two prime ministers of neighbouring giants at international gatherings like the Non-Aligned Meet at Bandung. It was, however, momentary. Both of them professed friendship and claimed that their friendship was based on a history of good relationship embedded in culture and common man’s concepts that had roots in soil enriched by both countries for many millennia. The whole concept and the words explaining that concept looked and sounded like a Chinese puzzle. The deep roots of brotherly love that they claimed was, however, only skin deep. Were there any royal visits in the past or were there any diplomatic weddings among the ruling dynasties of the two countries? The pages of history are mute on marriages and exchange of royal gifts. The only exception is visits of Buddhist monks from India to China to propagate the Bauddh Dharma in China. Buddhism got royal support too and became a major religion with a vast following in China and the Far East. There were visits of Chinese scholars professing Buddhism to India for higher studies and taking a look at the original scriptures. Fa Hsien and Huen Tsang or Shuan Jang were two prominent personalities among them who left behind travel literature for historians of later ages. That was it. The Communist regime of China did not feel very comfortable in promoting Buddhist Thought or any other religion since they are atheists. There is no Dharma for a Communist individual or a Communist State. Self survival at any cost is the golden Mantra that they chant and act upon.
CHINA MARCHED INTO TIBET
The People’s Republic of China came into being on 1st October 1949 when the then Chiang Kai Shek government went into exile and fled to Formosa (now Taiwan) to escape a trial for treason. With a total lack of opposition from the comity of nations and complete support of the Chinese people, Chairman Mao Tse-Tung consolidated power and launched an expansionist policy around the frontiers of JUNG GWO or the middle country as the Chinese call their motherland. Their eyes fell on Tibet, called Syi Dzong in the Chinese language. The People’s Liberation Army met with little military resistance and almost had a walk over. Since then Tibet has been an Autonomous Region of China. Frankly speaking, autonomy is for namesake – just on paper, otherwise the Chinese govt in Beijing rules the roost in Lhasa. Thereafter there have been many uprisings of the Tibetan people against the Chinese rule but all were of no avail. Pt Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India did not raise a little finger to oppose the Chinese takeover of Tibet. The people of India, by and large, developed a hatred for the Chinese use of force against peaceful people of Tibet and that was all. Nehru’s govt was still enamoured of the Chou govt of China. But the Chinese were planning further expansion of the Dragon Empire at the cost of India. Nehru’s Intelligence people remained ignorant of evil designs of China because they were still under the spell of HINDI-CHEENI BHAI BHAI fantasy bordering black magic. Swallowing Tibet only sharpened the appetite of the Chinese Dragon and our corridors of power in New Delhi only hummed tunes of Chinese music that was dear to Nehru’s ears. The Disaster was indeed lurking round the corner for the people of India that the political leaders or bureaucrats could not foretell. The Chinese lullaby had lulled them to sleep that was almost like a drunken stupor.
CHINA ATTACKED INDIA TOO
Nehru and his ministers were rudely shaken out of slumber and a dream extravaganza when the People’s Liberation Army attacked India in both Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh (then called NEFA)in October 1962. It was too late and the Indian soldiers paid with their lives and limbs because the Indian Army was ill clothed, ill armed and ill prepared to face a professional force that had fought a civil war and knew what a war was. The hatred of India for China was at its zenith during and after the war. The country was helpless and so was its incompetent leadership under a China lover named Nehru. Nehru could not believe that his bosom friends, Chou and China had stabbed him and his motherland in the back. But seeing is believing and this belief came rather late in the day. Unfortunately Nehru suffered a stroke from which he could not recover and breathed his last in May 1964. That was the end of the HINDI-CHEENI BHAI BHAI era. As the Indian hatred against China grew in intensity day by day, China leaned towards Pakistan, an arch-enemy of India’s. Thereafter there was no love for China in India, only hate and hate. As the hate scenario changed a wee bit with the passage of time, India and China evolved a system of working relationship. However, Pakistan continued to be the blue-eyed boy of Beijing. Never mind killing of Uighur Muslims in Urumqi, Xinjiang by the Han Chinese security forces during frequent ethnic riots.
Our compatriots, specially the Hindu pilgrims suffered in more ways than one. The Hindu pilgrims who had been going on pilgrimage to Mount Kailas and pious lake Mansarovar since time immemorial, were stopped by the Chinese at the Tibet borders. The pilgrimage remained suspended for almost two decades. It could be resumed only when there was a diplomatic thaw. I have had the privilege of going on a visit to Mount Kailas and Lake Mansarovar in 1993 and found that the Chinese suzerainty was in evidence all over Tibet. Thanks to the myopic policy of our specialists in foreign affairs, we Indians were losers vis-a-vis the Chinese government. It is hoped that our so called specialists have learnt a lesson after tasting defeat on both the military front and the diplomatic front.
There have been many exchanges of delegations between India and China. At best it can be termed a sort of working relationship where there is no war and no peace. The common man still hates China. An average Chinese citizen does not like an Indian either. The Chinese love Pakistanis and vice-versa. There are historical reasons for it. When India and the USSR were good friends, China and Pakistan extended hands of friendship to each other. This has stood the test of time, notwithstanding China suppressing her Muslim minorities on her western borders. Anyway, there is no love lost between India and China despite all kinds of high level exchange of visits to each other’s country.
Will China attack India sometimes in the next decade when the going gets tough economically for her? Well, it is a hypothetical question and need not be analysed. Suffice it to say that the People’s Republic of China has reached the take off stage for becoming a world power economically and militarily. Her competition will be with the United States of America at the global level. Under these circumstances China will not like to be bogged down in a regional fracas with India as it will be counter-productive. In the interest of progress,
LET PEACE PREVAIL – that is the new musical strain of both China and India.
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