The outbreak of hostilities of 1962 by China along the vast border between India and China was an important milestone in the long unacknowledged competition of the two of the oldest civilisations in Asia for dominance. It is by no means over as the aggression has opened up more issues than it could conclude. Perhaps it is by design that China intends to keep the border issue alive so as to keep India “occupied” otherwise how can anyone explain the repeated shifting of goalposts by the Dragon? Numerous border settlement meetings between the two have taken place prior to the Chinese aggression of 1962 but every time the Chinese side threw up a new map, argument and reference point. This has actually pointed out that the Chinese side have decided that the differences will always be kept on the boil so as to keep India unsettled. It seems that the Chinese strategy is three-pronged – 1) to force India to divert resources towards defense rather than shoring up economy so that India cannot match up to China. 2) Domination on the Afro-Asian and world stage. 3) Chipping away on India’s legitimate borders in mineral rich Sinkiang and Aksai Chin and gain a foot hold in the Arabian Sea by way of Pakistan as a dependant state.
Very few (including the Indian government) could have ever imagined the intense desire of China to possess Aksai Chin, an area in Nehru’s words”world’s bleakest, a land where no people live and no blade of grass grows”. The answer lays in the long term economic and political interests of both China and India – albeit with different perceptions.