You are on page 1of 1

The Sino-Indian frontier dispute of 1962 was a key part of my education

in foreign affairs, even though I was largely a bystander.

If I relate the details now, 40 years later, that is partly because they
remain important in themselves. But even more importantly, they are also
crucial to understanding the lying and duplicitous nature of Western
foreign policies during the Cold War years.

For much of 1962, I was the official directly in charge of Chinese affairs
within the East Asia division of Australias former department of external
affairs. As a Chinese language speaker, I had previously been stationed in
Hong Kong as second secretary for two years.

At the time it was obvious that India was pursuing a forward policy in all
three sections of the line of control border with China. Posts and patrols
were being pushed further and further into territory that seemed clearly to
lie on the Chinese side of that border.

Beijing was warning heavily that if the pressure continued, inevitably

there would be conflict. I decided to look much more closely at the claims
both sides were making to disputed territory.

At the time, in any dispute involving China, Canberras usual assumption

was that Beijing was in the wrong. China had been labelled an aggressor
in the 1950-53 Korean War. Taiwan was still a hot issue at the time, with
China once again seen as an aggressor following the very dangerous 1958
Taiwan Straits crisis involving the offshore islands of Quemoy and Matsu
(the civil war nature of Beijings dispute with Taiwan had convieniently
been forgotten).

1959 saw Beijings suppression of the (CIA-backed) Tibetan uprising. By

1962 the Sino-Soviet dispute was underway, with Beijing firmly seen as
seeking to follow a much more anti-Western and harsher ideological line
than Moscow. None of us realised then what I later worked out to be the
key cause of the (Sino-Sov) dispute, namely Khrushchevs withdrawal of
the Soviet nuclear umbrella from China during the Taiwan Straits dispute.