ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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From 50 Years Ago: A Reversal over China?

Editorial from Volume XII, No 8, February 20, 1960.

The Prime Minister’s rather sudden invitation to Mr Chou En-lai to come to Delhi for talks on the border dispute has once again brought the whole of his China policy under fire from the Opposition. Mr Nehru has been accused of having reversed his previous policy of “firmness”, and of having brought “national humiliation” to the country as a result of his reversal. It is necessary to examine these charges and see how far they are justified. The first point to be noted is that this tre-mendous indignation against the “reversal” of policy in regard to the China question comes from the very people who were tremendously indignant about the original policy from which the reversal is now supposed to have taken place. This is hardly reasonable. If the original policy adopted by the Prime Minister was as bad as the Opposition made it out to be, there ought to be, if anything, jubilation at the fact that the policy is being reversed. But the Opposition is nothing if not versatile: it can be indignant with anything. Mr Nehru was originally charged with a lack of firm-ness; now we learn that he had in fact been admirably firm at the start, and it is only now that he is showing signs of weakening. A relevant question to ask is: What was Mr Nehru’s original policy, and in what way can it be said to have undergone a change now? When the Chinese first crossed into our territory and occupied large chunks of it, there were three courses of action open to the Indian Government. It could (a) mobilise all its physical resources and try to throw out the Chinese by force; (b) ask the Chinese to withdraw volun-tarily and then sit round a table with us to dis-cuss and, where necessary, make minor adjust-ments of the present border; (c) quietly accept the new position. It chose the middle course of demanding that Peking should vacate its ag-gression of Indian territory and then negotiate minor adjustments of the McMahon Line and New Delhi. Does Mr Nehru’s latest letter to Mr Chou En-lai depart from that policy?

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