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Mainstream, VOL L No 47, November 10, 2012

Mao made the Blueprint for Chinese Aggression of 1962

Wednesday 21 November 2012, by Sankar Ray


Howsoever absurd and tendentious it may seem to top official Communists from the 
CPI-M to Maoists and their fellow-travellers, the strategy for invading India on October 20 was finalised at the Tenth Plenum of the Eighth Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, held in the last week of Septem-ber 1962, and the blueprint was presented by Chairman Ma Zedong in a secret speech, revealed in the early 1980s by Dr Hemen Ray, an outstan-ding scholar on Sino-Soviet matters in a well-documented book, Peking and Indian Commu-nists (Bombay, 1980). Needless to say, the decision to attack India was taken at the highest level. A more-than-implicit hint of this was in a communiqué, released by the CPC on September 28, at the end of the plenary meeting; that communique informed that the People’s Liberation Army was “vigilant guarding the frontiers of our great motherland” and was prepared to “smash and sabotage activities of any enemy”. The ‘enemy’ was none but India with whom China had border disputes at that time. Ray referred to an article in the Winter 1968-69 issue of Chinese Law and Government. Significantly enough, the Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai told the Soviet Ambassador in Beijing on October 8 that India “was about to launch a massive attack“ and “we should resolutely defend ourselves”.

Among the few scholars who reacted immediately after the short-lived Sino-Indian war was Klaus Mehnert in his treatise, Peking and Moscow (New York, 1963): “We must assume that the Central Committee session (of the CPC) in September 1962 had approved the plan of attacking India in the Himalayas.” These words will enrage the Leftist elite among academics and intelligentsia whom the Slovenian Leninist, Slavoj Žižek, termed as ‘salaried bourgeoisie’. For them, Neville Maxwell (author of India’s China War) and Karunakar Gupta (who wrote Spotlight on Sino-Indian Frontiers) convey the last word on the Sino-Indian boundary dispute. Admirers of Maxwell and Gupta never care to read more authentic works of Dr Srinath Raghavan and Parshottam Mehra, whose scholarship is way above the sensationalist treatises that are close to the chest of the Lefties.

To go a little adrift, Maxwell infamously wrote in the late 1960s: “The great experiment of developing India within a democratic frame-work has failed. [Indians will soon vote] in the fourth—and surely last—general election.” As the Indian correspondent of Guardian, Maxwell thundered misjudgments in foreign affairs while maintaining that Indian democracy had begun disintegrating.

The pro-Chinese faction of the yet-to-be split CPI argued after the calamitous border war that ‘a socialist country cannot commit aggression’ as if the Red Army of the erstwhile Soviet Union did not invade Finland in 1940. (Rabindranath Tagore, whose sympathy for the Soviets was well known, wrote: “Finland choorno holo Soviet bomabarshane—Finland crushed by the Soviet bombardment.”) But, as Orwell once said, it’s futile to ‘teach a parrot a new word’, the elitist Left behave like unsuccessful lower court vakils. In a recent issue of Economic and Political Weekly, H. Srikanth questioned the perception of China as aggressor. “They had no convincing answers as to why China unilaterally declared a ceasefire after the People’s Liberation Army had advanced almost up to Tezpur in Assam and withdrew its forces to the north of the McMahon Line.” Shouldn’t Beijing be asked this to clarify, instead of New Delhi? 

Srikanth repeated like a broken LP record on play that since “China never accepted the McMahon Line as its boundary, what would have prevented it from retaining Tawang and other parts of Raunchily Pradesh that it had occupied?” Did he read Raghavan’s paper in EPW—“Sino-Indian Boundary Dispute, 1948-60: A Reappraisal”, EPW, September 9, 2006. In the mid-1950s the Burmese Premier U Nu sought India’s help in resolving Burma’s boundary disputes with China. Nehru responded affirmatively and agreed to write to the Chinese PM, wrote Dr Raghavan. ”McMahon Line encompassed a part of Burma’s northern boundary too. During his visit to India in January 1957, Zhou referred to the McMahon Line in the context of the Sino-Burmese boundary. Although China had never recognised the line, they thought ‘now that it is an accomplished fact, we should accept it’.“ So China recognised the McMahon Line in regard to its frontier with Myanmar (formerly Burma). All this is documented in the Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru (ed.: S. Gopal).

We have forgotten the warning about the possible repercussions of Sino-Indian animosity by the General Secretary of undivided CPI, Ajoy Ghosh, in a letter to Mao after nine Indian Jawans were gunned down by the Chinese soldiers in the Kongka Pass of Ladakh in October 1959. Requesting Mao to resume the Sino-Indian dialogue, he wrote: “Any delay would assist the very forces that seek to create hostility against India within the Anglo-American camp. Such a development would be a grievous damage to the cause of peace and Afro-Asian solidarity.” (The India China Border Dispute and the Communist Party of India, Resolutions, Statements and Speeches, 1959-63, for party members only, Communist Party Publications, New Delhi, 1963, pp. 47-48) But Mao did not pay heed to the CPI chief.  The entire CPC brass led by Mao remained more committed to Genghis Khan and Taimur, their predecessors, than the libertarian basics of Marx.
Arguments like impossibility of aggression by a socialist country are puerile. History doesn’t endorse such loose formulations. But as far China, especially of the Mao era, is concerned, Mao’s refusal to address the congenital problems of the Great Leap Forward and his suppression of criticism had a correspondence with the ”negative context for the development of Sino-Soviet relations” that intensified the bad blood between China and India, which was friendly towards the socialist camp, unlike Pakistan, the newly found all-weather friend of China.

Research scholars will find a huge amount of materials on the indeterminates of Sino-Indian border controversies in documents never considered by Maxwell, Gupta and their follo-wers, such as the Apa Pant Papers, Vijayalak-shmi Pandit Papers, R.K. Nehru, Oral History Transcript (especially Confidential Note, ‘Our China Policy: A Personal Assessment’, July 30, 1968) and Bishnuram Medhi Papers—available at the the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library. Fashionable Leftism under the dominance of ‘salaried bourgeoisie’ suits armchair revolutio-nism, not research efforts sans pre-conceived and romantic notions. It thrives on the recycling of received wisdom, forsaking the principles of historiography. 

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