SPECIAL FRONTIER FORCE – THE FIGHT FOR FREE TIBET:
I am not surprised to read about this confrontation between China and India about national boundaries along the Himalayan frontier. India won its political freedom in 1947 and had to give attention to the problems of people and could not take decisive action to defend its northern frontier. India faced a much stronger threat from the west and was constantly put under pressure by Pakistan which has scant respect for India’s chosen secular traditions. The Communist revolution in China is the most important historical event in Asia and it has become the most significant threat to Freedom, Democracy, and Justice in this part of the world. Harry S. Truman(1884 – 1972), 33rd President of the US(1949-1952) is generally blamed for the “loss” of China to the Communists. Chiang Kai-Shek(1888-1975), and the Nationalists were ousted(1949) from mainland China by the Communists. However, the US recognized that the Communist expansion must be resisted and had helped the ‘Kuomintang’, Nationalist Party to establish the Republic of China in Taiwan(Portuguese Formosa) and has given it consistent support and has prevented Communist China from using military force to occupy Taiwan. Tibetans are not very fortunate as Tibet pursued a policy of political ‘isolationism’ and had failed to seek active US intervention in their Land to stop Communist China’s military expansion. During 1950, China occupied Tibet as the resistance was minimal and as Tibetan leaders believed that China could be appeased by agreeing to their demands. When Tibetans recognized that they made a fatal error in their political calculation, it wasn’t easy to the US to intervene directly. The military threat posed by China’s military occupation of Tibet was duly recognized by India and the United States. Dwight David Eisenhower(1890-1969), 34th President of the US(1953-1961) who had continued President Truman administration’s policy of containing Communism gave sanction to support the Tibetan Resistance Movement with active collaboration of India, and Tibet from 1958. The National Uprising of Tibetans on March 10, 1959 was brutally crushed by China, and the Tibetan Head of State, the 14th Dalai Lama was forced to take asylum in India. Since its independence in 1947, India never had an opportunity to establish strong relationship with Tibet and define its northern frontier. At the same time, it must not be ignored that India, and Tibet had signed the 1914 Simla Agreement and had ratified McMahon Treaty that established the McMahon Line as the official and legitimate boundary between these two countries. The 13th Dalai Lama had agreed that McMahon Line determines the Indo-Tibetan border. China’s military occupation of Tibet will not alter the reality of an agreement made by the two sovereign nations. Communist China lost no time and had retaliated against India by its War of Aggression during October-November 1962. John Fitzgerald Kennedy(1917-1963), 35th President of the US(1961-1963) with his intervention and the threat to “NUKE” China had forced the Communists to declare unilateral ceasefire on November 21, 1962 and China withdrew from the captured territory while retaining Aksai Chin region of Ladakh. Mao Tse-tung or Mao Zedong(1893-1976), founder of the People’s Republic of China and its Chairman from 1949 to 1959 had established China’s policy of military expansionism and there is no change in that policy. China has been very aggressively pursuing its policy of territorial expansion using its superior military strength and intelligence capabilities. India, and Tibet have no choice other than that of resisting Communist expansion and seek help, encouragement, and support from the US to fight this challenge as best possible with the limited resources that they can muster. I would make the following recommendations to resist the military threat posed by China’s incursion into Ladakh:
1. Expel all Chinese nationals from India. This task is easier and can be effectively implemented without firing a bullet and without any direct combat at the Himalayan frontier.
2. Cancel all visits, meetings, and diplomatic exchanges until China voluntarily withdraws its troops from Ladakh.
3. Reduce the size of China’s diplomatic staff and other support personnel present in India until China commits itself not to use its military power to discuss the boundary demarcation issue.
4. Insist upon the inclusion of Tibetan Government-in-Exile in any talks that concern the border between India, and Tibet.
Rudra N Rebbapragada
Ann Arbor, MI 48104-4162, USA
R. Rudra Narasimham, B.Sc., M.B.B.S.,
Personal Numbers:MS-8466/MR-03277K. Rank:Lieutenant/Captain/Major.
Branch:Army Medical Corps/Short Service Regular Commission(1969-1972); Direct Permanent Commission(1973-1984).
Unit:Establishment No.22(1971-1974)/South Column,Operation Eagle(1971-1972).
Organization: Special Frontier Force.
India tested, found wanting
By Bharat Karnad
03rd May 2013: Chinese military move seriously to test India’s resolve has been on the cards for a long time now. But, this is only a gambit by Beijing to see what level of provocation will get the Indian government to act, and a means to establish a baseline for future actions. Alas, the Chinese planners misjudged how much soft tissue there is in India’s China policy, and foreign and defence policies generally, where spine should be.
From the first, the China Study Group (CSG) headed by the National Security Adviser and old China-hand, Shivshankar Menon, which fuels the Ministry of External Affairs’ thinking on the subject and dictates the government’s response whenever China heaves into view, decreed that the brazen armed intrusion be soft-pedalled. Thus, the depth of penetration in the Depsang Valley in Ladakh by People’s Liberation Army troops was initially stated as 8 km, before this figure was revised to 10 km and later 19 km. Now, 19 km is not a distance that small military units “stray across” as much as it is ground covered in a directed mission and yet, the junior minister in the Home Ministry managing the Chinese border with some miserable paramilitary maintained it was a mere “incursion”, not armed “intrusion”. By such hair-splitting is the Manmohan Singh government determined to do nothing?
China, in the meantime, adopted its standard stance when disrupting peace on undemarcated land and sea borders. It refused to acknowledge there was any such intrusion. When the PLA presence at Raki Nullah could no longer be denied, it stood the incident on its head by accusing the Indian Army of “aggressive patrolling”, and followed up by offering a fantastical trade-off: India ceases construction of necessary border military infrastructure and mothballs the advanced landing fields in the area in return for the status quo ante.
All the while, Beijing took its cues from excuses the MEA offered for the Chinese outrage, saying it arose from “differing perceptions” of where the LAC lay. The MEA minister, Salman Khurshid, revealing his cosmetological skills, then referred to the Chinese ingress as acne that can be cured with “ointment”.
With the offensively disposed Chinese military units inside Indian territory, it was again the CSG-MEA that offered Beijing a reason to stay put, saying the Chinese should be provided a “face-saving” way out of the mess they created by repairing to the negotiating table, whereupon the Chinese government promptly called for talks to restore peace. It is little wonder China sees India as a punching bag, an easy target to bully and badger.
The conclusion cannot any longer be avoided that either the China Study Group constitutes a Chinese fifth column at the heart of the Indian government, or is staffed by idiot savants. The classic illustration of an idiot savant is a mentally challenged person who can memorize the numbers on the wagons in a freight train rattling past his house, but does not know how to tie his shoelaces or, in this case, can read Confucius’ Analects in the original but is unable to see a straightforward land-grab for what it is — loss of national territory. The mostly Mandarin-speaking diplomats and experts in CSG seem so overawed by China they cannot resist acting as Beijing’s B Team.
At heart, the problem is that the 1962 war so institutionally rattled the MEA they still act groggy from that blow fifty years after the event and cannot recall just how military success was gained against the Chinese PLA, most recently in the 1986 Somdurong Chu incident. Having espied a PLA unit on the Indian side of LAC, General K. Sundarji airlifted troops, surrounded the Chinese encampment, placed artillery on the nearby heights ready to reduce the Chinese position to rubble, and tented a unit just 10 metres from the Chinese camp (not 500 metres as was bandied about in official circles).
It was an initiative, incidentally, the then army chief took disregarding procedure and not consulting the MEA or anyone else in government, hence its success. It unnerved the Chinese who sued for peace.
In contrast, the present army chief, General Bikram Singh who, by repeatedly parroting the government assertion over the past year that China poses no threat and all’s well on that front, in fact, preempted any action that Headquarters Northern Army or Leh-based 14 Corps could have instantly taken to vacate the presence of the Chinese troops, and imposed costs on PLA for this little adventure. But subordinate commanders taking their cue from the chief did nothing. The Prime Minister then compounded the trouble by reiterating the MEA-CSG line that this is but a “localised” incident.
Nineteen days into this affair, General Bikram reportedly briefed the Cabinet Committee on Security about prospective actions, such as severing supply links, etc. Except, has he planned on what he’ll do when PLA helicopters or logistics truck convoys turn up to replenish the food and water stocks? Shoot down the ’çopters and destroy the trucks. Fine. Then, is the army prepared for a bigger fight? 14 Corps can mount a divisional-level action easily, but will require immediate airlifting of another division as reserve. Moreover, half a brigade’s worth of army units should forthwith descend on the PLA-occupied site, raze their camp, and physically push the PLA soldiers back on to their side, and no-nonsense about it. If this is not done, a permanent realignment of LAC is on the cards in this strategically important tri-junction area.
Much worse, instead of showing self-respect and brio, and making the new Chinese premier Li Keqiang’s proposed Delhi visit in end-May conditional on immediate PLA pullback, Khurshid is planning to fly to Beijing to ensure Li keeps his date in Delhi and to ask the Chinese to withdraw, pretty please! It is as if China is the aggrieved party and needs placation.
Appeasement never pays; it only emboldens belligerent states to become more demanding. China has proved this time and again, but it is doubtful the CSG-MEA and the Indian government even know what the national interest is, or where it lies.
Bharat Karnad is professor at Centre for Policy Research and blogs at www.bharatkarnad.com
- Special Frontier Force – the War on Communism (bhavanajagat.com)
- Special Frontier Force – the Future of Tibet (bhavanajagat.com)
- Special Frontier Force – Freedom in Tibet (bhavanajagat.com)
- Special Frontier Force – Military Conflict With China (bhavanajagat.com)
- Whole Dude – Whole Fight (wholedude.com)
- Whole Dude – Whole Liberty (wholedude.com)
- Whole Dude – Whole Justice (wholedude.com)
- Whole Dude – Whole Democracy (wholedude.com)