This Battle Between China & India Changed Asian Geopolitics Forever
India and China, both with deep cultural roots, have had connections since ancient times. This relationship was reflected in the journeys of Buddhist monks and scholars who once traveled the Silk Road, spreading knowledge and philosophy. In the mid-20th century, both nations emerged from colonial rule.
India chose the path of democracy under the leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru, while China adopted communism under Mao Zedong. However, the excitement of newly gained independence was soon overshadowed by more practical concerns, especially territorial disputes. These two areas became central to these disputes — Aksai Chin in the west and the region now known as Arunachal Pradesh in the east.
October 1962 witnessed the eruption of a full-fledged war, a significant turning point in Sino-Indian relations. The conflict, driven by historical and geopolitical complexities, left a lasting impact on both Asian giants for decades.
The Prelude to War
“Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai” -Jawaharlal Nehru
The first Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, famously said, “Indians and Chinese are brothers.” Both nations looked forward to building a future where they could cooperate and grow together. However, this friendly atmosphere would soon be replaced by tension and disagreement.
As mentioned earlier, one of the primary causes of this growing tension was territorial disputes. Both nations had different interpretations of the borders — Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh. Despite their harsh climates, these territories were seen as strategically significant, adding to the gravity of the disputes.
Throughout the 1950s, these disagreements became increasingly pronounced. The issues remained stubbornly unresolved despite relentless talks and diplomatic endeavors, evading any meaningful conclusion.
The situation was further complicated by China’s occupation of Tibet in 1959. India offered refuge to the Dalai Lama, which upset China and added another point of contention to the strained relationship.