You are on page 1of 1

Gradually I began to realise that the entire dispute had to be seen in the

context not of border rights and wrongs, but rather of Nehrus anger over
loss of an Indian presence in Tibet after the establishment of the
communist regime in China and particularly after 1959. He seemed to
believe that somehow the situation could be reversed by continued
pressure on China.

At the time the details of how India had co-operated with the CIA in
helping foment the 1959 Tibetan uprising were not known. But Beijing
was already providing good evidence of Indian involvement. In short, and
even without looking at the facts on the ground, it was very likely that
New Delhi, not Beijing, was instigating border tension.

A key piece of evidence showing that Beijing was not trying to be

aggressive along the border was the so-called Tibetan Documents
material captured from a Chinese frontier post in mid-1962 and smuggled
out to the West via Washington. Careful reading of the documents made it
clear that Beijing was very concerned about Indian policies over Tibet, and
warned Chinese officials cnstantly about the danger of Indian

In other words, China was clearly on the defensive. But none of the people
around me at the time seemed very interested in this kind of reliable inside
evidence of Chinese thinking. They had already decided that Beijing was
aggressive, and that was that.

When serious fighting broke out on October 20 as Chinese troops moved

south across the Thag La Ridge area following Nehrus October 12 order
to have Indian troops occupy the Dho La Strip territory, I made it my job
immediately to check where the disputed Dho La Strip territory was
actually located. Extremely detailed and seemingly objective material
coming out of Beijing, including copies of the original McMahon Line
agreement, complete with maps, seemed to confirm that both the Dho La
Strip and the Thag La Ridge were indeed north of where the McMahon
Line was supposed to be. In which case, India was clearly the aggressor.

I sent cables to our offices in London and Washington with instructions to

find out whether British and US intelligence confirmed my conclusions
about the location of the strip and Indian activities there. A day or two
later, probably around October 24, very guarded replies came back from
relevant officials saying in effect that my conclusions were not inaccurate.

What to do? Already London, Washington, and Canberra were coming out
with strident condemnations of Chinese aggression against peaceful India.