In a rare deja vu of events in1961 when an enraged Chinese Premier Chou En-lai rushed back home from the NAM summit in New Delhi after finding Nehru’s opinion on Tibet "too harsh" that spilled into the hostile 1962 war, Chinese President Xi Jinping just finished his "friendly" visit to India last week but shocked India when he openly directed the People’s Liberation Army to be combat ready to win a "regional war", hinting at India.
In a rare speech, Xi, who is also the Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) and the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC), said, “Headquarters of all People’s Liberation Army (PLA) forces should improve their combat readiness and sharpen their ability to win a regional war in the age of information technology," reported the state-run Xinhua news agency.
Xi’s address to reassert his control and authority over the Chinese army is understandable, but his reference to the “regional war” at a time when New Delhi is engaging in close ties with Japan and Vietnam and its open utterances against Beijing’s adventurism in the South China Sea cannot be ignored, going by what happened in the past.
Ever since the 1962 war, China and India are engaged in constant flare ups along the borders and China refuses to accept India’s sovereignty over Arunachal Pradesh and the Chinese troops often intrude into Indian borders in a high-altitude military face-off at Chumar in eastern Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), as reports said.
While a new standoff took took place on Sunday with the PLA putting up seven tents inside the Indian territory, on Monday came a pat from the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunyin that both President XI and Prime Minister Modi have reached key understanding to resolve the border issue through friendly mechanism.
In fact, the 1962 war took place in two zones, one at Aksai Chin (Jammu & Kashmir) and the other at NEFA (North East Frontier Agency, currently Arunachal Pradesh) border and more than 1,300 Indian soldiers and about 500 Chinese troops were killed. India lost the war and Nehru remained silent ever after about India’s war-preparedness.
President Xi’s hint at "regional war" is unwelcome and India should clarify with its counterparts in China and keep the nation informed unlike what Nehru did in 1962, speaking high about the country’s war-preparedness that was never true, especially in hilly icy mountain areas.
In the war, Indian troops were using World War One period .303 rifles while the Chinese troops were equipped with machine guns, mortars and automatic rifles. Nehru was reluctant to import arms citing Non-alignment stance beset with Gandhi’s ahimsa policy.