In this issue, I’m looking at a new history of the 1962 war that is being published in China ahead of the 60th anniversary that falls in October.
Basically a view from the
*'other side of the hill'.*
The Sino-Indian war remains a trauma for us even today, but all these years, as far as the Chinese were concerned,
it did not form an important part of their institutional memory -- or a subject of study by the Chinese military/political hierarchy.
Tactical, strategic and political aspects of the Korean war, the two Sino- Japanese wars and Mao's victory against Kuomintang/ Chiang Kai Shek (forces) was what they remember or study.
That is till recently. The last few years has changed their focus to lessons learnt and how the Indian Army thinks and fights.
How the Chinese will think, plan and execute a war with India need not be a mystery, if we prepare ourselves, ensure we have the capability to fight a coordinated battle and get over the outdated 'Chandaal' pamphlet.
For us in India, many books and articles about the 1962 war by Indian authors were always available. But we had very limited availability of material about the Chinese political and military strategy of the 62 war, their perceptions, battle plans and higher direction of war.
Strangely, perhaps the only available treatise which gave a rather different story (about Indian military and political incompetency) from what we like to believe, was Maxwells book, 'India's China War' and that famous postmortem 'report' still officially classified by the govt of India, but available on the 'net'.
And there was, ofcourse, an attempt made some time back by PJS Sandhu in his contributions to the USI Journal regarding the 'Chinese version' of the sequence of events.
Without going into the usual nonsensical excuses of 'ill planned tactical operations and untenable defences or lack of ammunition or non availability of winter clothes or antiquated rifles etc', if there is one sentence which sums up why there was a rout of the Indian Army (which surprised even the Chinese), it is-- *breakdown of command, control, communications and inability to fight a coordinated battle coupled with poor leadership.*
Half a dozen plus brigades don't disintegrate without a fight or at least making it a costly victory for the enemy.
This article by Zhang Xiaokang, daughter of Zhang Guohua, commander of the Tibetan Military Region during the war only reinforces this point.
You write, "China’s emphasis on “counterattack” which is repeated in the extracts, and I note below in my comments, underline its sensitivity about a war where it was the obvious aggressor and about a war that punctures the still widely prevalent narrative in Chinese propaganda that China and “never attacked or invaded” another country."
This is of course the Indian line that China was "the obvious aggressor". What about the other set of documents from that period, the leaked sections of the Henderson-Brooks report that Neville Maxwell published as a book recently? Maxwell claims that it was India that was the aggressor.
So we still don't know whodunnit?