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All this combined with events along the Sino-Indian border served to

create in the West the image of an aggressive China already on the move
and out of control. But when I began to look at the details of the Sino-
Indian frontier dispute a totally different picture emerged.

In the NEFA (North-East Frontier Agency), China seemed tacitly to have


accepted the Indian claim and the fact of Indian occupation, even this
meant the loss of a very large and valuable territory populated by
Mongoloid people and which in the past had clearly belonged to Tibet. It
had come into Indian hands only as a result of British expansionism during
Chinas period of historical weakness, a fact firmly suggested by the very
name of the frontier Beijing had tacitly accepted as the line of control
the McMahon Line.

In the central sector there seemed to be little to contradict Chinese claims


to the small pockets of territory being contested. In the western Aksai Chin
sector the Chinese claim seemed overwhelming the facts that most of the
land lay on the Chinese side of the watershed, that China had built a badly
needed road to connect Tibet with Sinkiang through the barren landscape
without New Delhi even realising it, and that the population even on the
Indian (Ladakh) side of the Line of Control border was Mongoloid and
Tibetan Buddhist.

When thanks to Alastair Lambs important book, The China-India Border,


I discovered that the Indian claim was based on serious distortions of 19th
century British-Chinese documents, I was amazed by the seeming
vehemence of New Delhis very weak claim to the territory. (Distribution
of Lambs book was banned in India at the time.)

Even more disturbing was New Delhis demand that China evacuate the
entire territory before there could be serious border talks.

In short, it was obvious that Beijing was prepared for a very reasonable
compromise settlement to the frontier dispute, namely giving up the NEFA
claim in exchange for India accepting Chinas Aksai Chin claim.

This would leave India in control of by far the most valuable piece of
territory, namely the NEFA. That India seemed to want to reject this very
generous solution seemed most unreasonable. The Nationalist government
in Taiwan was already criticising Beijing for being willing to abandon
historical Chinese territory in the NEFA.