India, China Go To War (1962)
The India-China War of 1962 was an important marker in the making of Modern India. But how did the two neighbours, who had been close through the 1950s, come to this pass? Read on to find out what led to this conflict.
In 1954, China and India signed the famous Panchsheel Agreement based on the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence and Non-Interference. But the agreement was signed even as issues on the border between India and China were contentious.
The McMahon Line, the frontier between Assam in British-India in Tibet, had been negotiated between Tibet and Britain at the end of the Shimla Convention in 1914. However, Chinese delegates refused to sign the agreement on the status and boundaries of Tibet.
The Chinese argued that Tibet was subordinate to China and did not have the power to make treaties. The troubles in Tibet worsened the situation. In March 1959, Tibetans rose against Chinese occupation. The Dalai Lama fled to India, where he was given asylum.
China considered this an interference in its internal affairs and thus a violation of the Panchsheel principles. Soon after, there were minor clashes between the Chinese and Indian troops patrolling the border.
Both countries set up posts along the borders, and various military incidents were reported throughout the summer of 1962. But, on 20th October 1962, the Chinese captured Indian posts in the Galwan Valley & threatened the Chushul airstrip, triggering a long conflict.
The India-China War lasted a month before China unilaterally declared a ceasefire on 21st Nov 1962. The war was a jolt to India, leading to a complete overhaul of its defence policy.
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