NEW DELHI: In the run up to the 1962 Sino-India war, China feared that America could engineer a military coup in India as part of its strategy to surround it and the Soviet Union.
This possibility combined with the then Army chief General KS Thimayya’s attempt to force Krishna Menon out of the defence minister’s post raised “real fears among the Chinese leaders” that India “should be snatched away from going into the US imperialist camp”, says the declassified CIA documents released a couple of days ago.
These detailed analyses, based on extensive CIA inputs, many secret information including intercepts, of the India-China war was prepared in 1963-64 after it got over in India’s humiliating defeat. The analysis was done in three parts in 1963-64, but were declassified only a couple of days ago.
Then Chinese premier Zhou EnLai reportedly spoke of the concern about India joining the US camp under a military dictator during a meeting with the then united Communist Party of India general secretary Ajoy Ghosh in Beijing.
Indian strategic analysts have dismissed the Chinese concerns as misplaced, and have cautioned many who draw parallels between those days and now-because of the Indo-US relations and rising Chinese pitch on Arunachal Pradesh.
The CIA analysis in the overall does not place the blame just at Nehru’s doorsteps. In fact, the CIA analysis sums up the various pulls and pressures on Nehru, both political and military, and says, “New Delhi’s failure to strike back at Chinese forces on the border is conjectural. Certainly, Nehru’s idea of first building a national economic base is a platitude in the context of the border dispute. The idea that the Chinese would face insurmountable logistics problems in the event of a major drive south, however, seemed to be firmly fixed in Indian military thinking. On balance, Indian estimates of Chinese capabilities and intentions along the border supported Nehru’s policy of no-war and a negotiated
settlement.” The report says: “Had it not been Nehru, but rather a more military-minded man, a priority program to prepare India eventually to fight would have been put in place. It also points out that Mao Zedong had placed US as Beijing’s “major world enemy, India was second on the list”, ie the “main target in Souteast Asia”.
CIA, however, also concludes that “Chinese charges of Indian responsibility for the initial provocation-i.e., new posts in spring 196l-seem to be valid. Although the Indian countercharge complained of a new Chinese post set up at the same time, they admitted privately that (1) this post was within the Chinese claim line of 1960 and (2) it had been set up after the Indian posts had been established.”