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

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India-China Dispute Revisited

How It Could Be Resolved

There are two components to the India-China border dispute and they are separate, distinct and different. The first dispute was over the north-eastern sector and the second was over Aksai Chin. Jawaharlal Nehru's refusal to submit the dispute to negotiation meant it became diplomatically insoluble and his attempt to make the Indian claims good on the ground through military force challenged China to war. Successor governments have maintained his refusal to submit India's border claims to negotiation and the "talks" in which they have engaged Beijing cannot lead to settlement. But if the Government of India reversed Nehru's approach and agreed to negotiate, settlement could still be reached because each country holds the territory vital to it.

It is likely that the forthcoming publication of a revised edition of India’s China War will revive the charge that it is merely anti-Indian in tone and content. But what that account of the origins of the Sino-Indian border dispute and its development into war actually does is show that Indian governments, like others, can make grave mistakes; will never admit to those or feel able to correct them; and are always prepared to deceive their people, and indeed themselves. What is aimed here is a synopsis as guide to the detailed account in the book.

There are in fact two territorial disputes between India and China, now conjoined but separate and distinct from each other geographically, in political origin and in the historical era in which they were created. The first, concerning the north-east and the McMahon Line, was created by the British in their final years of rule in India and thus was congenital to independent India; the second, in the north-west and involving India’s claim to the Aksai Chin area, was of independent India’s sole making and to a great extent the personal responsibility of Jawaharlal Nehru.

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