SINO-INDIAN RELATIONS: A Sordid Continum of Denial ,Delusion & Disinformation

via H Balakrishnan published on September 20, 2009

Dear Sir,

Reference the news item ” No increase in Chinese incursions: Foreign Sec ” – (TNSE (20 SEP).

The report stated the Foreign Secy as telling: ” There was no mutually agreed or delineated border between the two countries and this caused a difference in perception”. Is that really the case?

Claude Arpi, in his column in your paper of 18 Sep entitled ” Borderline Amnesia”  wrote: ” The truth is that during the Tripartite Conference between British India, Tibet and China
held in Simla in 1914, the plenipotentiaries of India (Sir Henry McMahon) and Tibet agreed to delineate their common border on a map and they put their seal on it. Today, the Chinese vociferously say that they have never recognised the McMahon Line and that the entire state of Arunachal, south of the Line, belongs to them.

They did not always hold such an intransigent view. During the 1950s, Chinese premier Zhou Enlai was ready to accept the McMahon Line as the border between ‘China’s Tibet’ and

In this connection, a letter from the then Indian prime minister to U Nu, his Burmese counterpart is revealing. On April 22, 1957, Nehru wrote: “ I am writing to you immediately
so as to inform you of one particular development which took place here when Chou En-lai (Zhou Enlai) came to India. In your letter you say that while premier Chou En-lai was prepared to accept the McMahon Line in the north (of Burma), he objected to the use of the name ‘McMahon Line’, as this may produce ‘complications vis-à-vis India’, and therefore, he preferred to use the term ‘traditional line’.”

Nehru continued: “ When Chou En-lai was here last, …he referred to his talks with you and U Ba Swe and indicated that a satisfactory arrangement had been arrived at. In this
connection he said that while he was not convinced of the justice of our claim to the present Indian frontier with China (in Tibet), he was prepared to accept it. That is, he made it clear that he accepted the McMahon Line between India and China, chiefly because of his desire to settle outstanding matters with a friendly country like India and also because of usage, etc. I think, he added he did not like the name ‘McMahon Line’.”

That the Indian Foreign Secy is pulling wool over the eyes of the Indian public is nothing new. It is just following a tradition in Sino-Indian relations !! Sardar Patel, in his “prophetic” letter to Jawaharlal Nehru, on 07 Nov 1950, wrote, amongst other issues:

” I have carefully gone through the correspondence between the External Affairs Ministry and our Ambassador in Peking and through him the Chinese Government.I have tried to peruse
this correspondence favourably(sic) to our Ambassador and the Chinese Government as possible,but I regret to say that neither of them comes out well as a result of this study. The Chinese Government has tried to delude us by professions of peaceful intentions. My own feeling is that at a cruicial period they managed to instil into our Ambassador a false sense of confidence in their so called desire to settle the Tibetan problem by peaceful means.

There can be no doubt that during the period covered by this correspondence, the Chinese must have been concentrating for an onslaught on Tibet.The final action of the Chinese, in
my judgement, is little short of perfidy.The tragedy of it is that the Tibetans put faith in us; they chose to be guided by us; and we have been unable to get them out of the meshes of  Chinese diplomacy or Chines malevolence. From the latest position, it appears that we shall not be able to rescue the Dalai Lama.

Our Ambassador has been at great pains to find an explanation or justification for Chinese policy and actions. As the External Affairs Ministry remarked in one of their telegrams, there was a lack of firmness and unnecessary apology in one or two representations that he made to the Chinese Government on our behalf.

It is impossible to imagine any sensible person believing in the so-called threat to China from Anglo-American diplomacy or strategy.This feeling, if genuinely entertaind by the
Chinese in spite of your direct approaches to them,indicates that even though we regard ourselves as friends of China ,’THE CHINESE DO NOT REGARD US AS THEIR FRIENDS. With the Communist mentality of ‘whoever is not with them being against them’, this is a significant pointer,of which we have to take due note.”

Then again, the Indian Express of 18 Sep, carried a report entitled ‘China strikes back on Arunachal’. The report stated: “Last month, in a development New Delhi has been quiet about, China won a vote on a “disclosure agreement,” which prevents ADB from formally acknowledging Arunachal Pradesh as part of India.  (A disclosure agreement is a formal notification of a project once it’s approved by the ADB Board)”. The report goes on to state that Australia, Japan and some S.E. Asian countries voted ” with ” China against India. If that does not represent diplomatic failure, what else is it? Can our Foreign Secy explain?

Again, something more to belie the claims of the Foreign Secy !!

The newspapers of 17 Sep 2009, loudly touted about a meeting to be chaired by the NSA, with MEA/Defence Ministry/Home Ministry , and the Service Chief attending. However, the
newspapers of 18 Sep announced the ‘meeting had been
put off’ !!

A report in the Times of India stated:

” No reason was given for its postponement. But reliable sources said this followed differences between the external affairs ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office on the one hand and the defence ministry on the other.

The external affairs ministry has publicly tried to downplay the reported incursions, saying they are routine incidents that occur due to variations in perception about the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which de facto marks the Sino-Indian frontier.

External affairs minister S M Krishna has cautioned against creating “excessive alarm” over the reported developments and stressed that India’s border with China had been “most

The defence ministry has pitched for a more assertive approach vis-a-vis the alleged incursions, which Beijing has denied.

The defence ministry wants curbs on army patrolling of the border lifted and a more pro-active approach towards building border infrastructure that lags far behind China’s.

Currently, there are patrolling restrictions in certain “sensitive areas” of LAC to avoid possible clashes with Chinese troops. “


In an insightful Article of 15 Sep 2009, by security analyst, Mr. B.Raman, on the website of the Chennai Centre for China-India Studies, and titled ” China’s Strategic Intrusions in India’s Neighbourhood “, he concluded his Article as follows:

” What contracts of strategic significance India has won in our neighbourhood? Zilch/

What progress India has made in strengthening its strategic presence in its neighbourhood? Zilch.

How effective Indian strategic and economic diplomacy has been in our neighbourhood? Zilch.

It is time to be worried and howling over the way China has made strategic inroads in our neighbourhood and over the failure of our diplomacy to counter it.

Our Army can take care of China. Can our diplomats take care of China? “

( URL: )

The New Delhi based English daily – Pioneer – of 18 Sep 2009 – carried a report titled: ” China out to clip India’s wings:RAW ” .

An excerpt from this news report:

” The Ministry of External Affairs may be playing down the incidents of repeated incursions by China, but the country’s external intelligence agency Research and Analysis
Wing (RAW) has raised alarm bells about the Dragon embarking on a long-term strategy to encircle India and thwart it from emerging as a major regional power.

In a presentation made before the Directors General of Police and intelligence officials on Thursday, RAW pointed out that China was making massive investment in India’s neighbouring countries like Burma, Nepal and Sri Lanka and courting Pakistan to isolate

RAW said China was determined to prevent India from increasing its influence in the neighbourhood and that is why Beijing had decided to open its coffers to befriend these nations that badly needed foreign investments.

Outlining China’s future plan, RAW said Beijing wanted to replace the US as the world’s number one super power by 2050 and at present it wanted to consolidate both its economic and military might. “


Claude Arpi, in his excellent treatise ” Born in Sin: The Panchsheel Agreement – The Sacrifice of Tibet ” ( pp-101) wrote: ” The historian Parshotam Mehra in a well researched
book ” Negotiating with the Chinese: 1846-1987″ brings forward another aspect of India’s China policy when he quotes J.S. Grant, the Acting British High Commissioner in Delhi: ” A perceptive contemporary British observer of the Indian scene who called New Delhi’s attitude towards China as ‘ the most complex piece in the puzzle of Indian Foreign Policy’ was convinced that ‘ FEAR IS REALLY THIER [INDIANS] BASIC MOTIVE’. New Delhi, he argued, was ‘HORRIFIED AT THE POSSIBILITY OF WAR’ and was determined ‘AT ALL COSTS TO AVOID ANY INVOLVEMENT IN ANY CLASH WITH CHINA: IN THE EVENT IT HAD RESOLVED TO CULTIVATE AND RETAIN FRIENDLY RELATIONS WITH CHINA FOR ACHEIVING WHICH IT WAS PREPARED TO PAY ALMOST ANY PRICE.”

That we Indians have no sense of history is a well known fact, though we live in perpetual denial of this FACT !! Be that as it may, it is worth remebering the writing of Dr. R.C. Majumdar, probably India’s ‘tallest historian’, in 1965:

” There is, however, one aspect of Chinese culture that is little known outside the circle of professional historians. It is the aggressive imperialism that characterized the politics of
China throughout the course of her history, at least during the part of which is well known to us. Thaks to the systematic recording of historical facts by Chinese themselves, an almost unique acheivement in oriental countries – – we [historians] are in a position to follow the imperial and aggressive policy of China from the third century B.C. to the present day, a period of more than twenty-two hundred years — . It is characteristic of China that if a region once acknowledged her nominal suzerainty even for a short period, she would regard it as a part of her empire for ever and would automatically revive her claim over it even after a thousand years whenever there was a chance of enforcing it”. Arunachal and more specifically Tawang need be viewed against this backdrop – which ‘official India’ refuses to see !!

It is also well worth recounting the Deng leitmof to the PLA and diplomacy:

‘Observe with calm; make our position firm; meet challenges with equanimity; hide our capacities and bide our time; maintain a low profile; never take the lead; be able to accomplish’.

Our MEA Mandarins would also do well to pay heed to historical Chinese strategic thinking. Two quotes ought to suffice:

(A) – Sun TZU’S “The Art of War”  :  ” All warfare is based on deception. Hence,when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near,
we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when we are far away, we must make him believe we are near.. Hold out baits to the enemy, and crush him – -. Walk in the path defined by
rule, and accomodate yourself to the enemy until you can fight a decisive battle.”

(B) – From the “Wiles of War” : ” Reassure the enemy to make it slack, work in secret to subdue it; prepare fully before taking action to prevent the enemy from changing his mind: this is the method of hiding a strong will under a compliant appearance.”

And what has the Indian response been thus far?

As Arun Shourie puts it in his ” Are we Deceiving Ourselves Again: Lessons which the Chinese Taught Pandit Nehru but which we Refuse to Learn”  (pp- 10) :

” Over the last three years China has recommenced the sequence it enacted from 1959 onwards. It has brought the boundary talks virtually to a crawl. It has taken to making repeated, public and insistent claims to large parts of India, in particular to the whole state of Arunachal Pradesh, and it has made sure that these are made in a way and on occassions when everyone will notice- for instance, on the very eve of the visit of the President of China to India. It has recommenced incursions across the length of the border – from Ladakh to Sikkim to Arunachal.

The Government’s reaction has been a mixture. Of four elements:

– Hoping, Micawber-like, THAT SOMETHING WILL TURN UP.

– WISHFUL CONSTRUCTION- reading into Chinese statements and maneuvers WHAT WE WISH TO HEAR
and SEE.




In short, from 1950 todate, the Indian Story on Sino-Indian relations has been a sordid contiuum of denial, delusion and disinformation. That the consequences have been tragic for this Nation appears to be lost on ‘Official India’.

I suspect, we are in “YELLOW FUNK” of the “Red Dragon”.


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