[Editorial Analysis] A history fact-check for China

Mains Paper 2: International Relations
Prelims level: Mao Zedong
Mains level: India and its neighbourhood- relations

Context:

• Chinese strategists often invent past military triumphs against India. They forget that the age of teaching anyone a lesson is over.
• The way forward, to resolve border tensions between India and China, is through dialogue and peaceful negotiations.

Background:

• To “knock” India back “to the negotiating table” through military action in 1962, Mao Zedong banked on strategic principles drawn from China’s so-called historical experience of defeating India in “one and a half” wars.
• Mao was clearly trying to reinterpret historical events in a manner through which Han Chinese chauvinism could lay a vicarious claim to a distant event in the past.

First example:

• There was no war between India and China during the Tang period (618-907 CE). After Harshvardhan death and the decline of his empire, Wang Xuanze, the Tang envoy to the court at Thaneswar and his entourage were reportedly attacked by local feudal powers.
• Then, Wang fled to Tibet and sought to regroup before launching a military campaign against some north Indian villages.
• India and China did not share any border at the time. Tibet then was completely independent and even the mounted soldiers reportedly mustered by Wang Xuanze were obviously Tibetans.
• 641 CE also coincides with the presence, in India, of the legendary Chinese monk Xuanzang who was still on his peregrinations in search of Buddhist scriptures and other religious and philosophical texts.
• After nearly 17 years of wandering, including a sojourn at Nalanda University, he carried back a rich trove with him to Chang’an in China, to spread the teachings gathered in India among his fellow Han Chinese.
• This was no doubt an age marked by the absence of narrow nationalism, one that permitted Chinese monks such as Fa Xian, Xuanzang and Yi Jing from China, and Dharmaratna, Kasyapa Matanga and Bodhidharma from India to travel to exchange ideas and learnings.

Mao’s perspective in referring to first example:

• If Mao was referring to an “Indian kingdom” that approached the Tang court to prevail over another “Indian kingdom” during this period, he was probably referring to the ancient Buddhist kingdom of Kuche, home to the famous fifth-century Buddhist monk Kumarjiva, located on the northern Silk Road in modern-day Xinjiang.
• The small kingdom of Kuche was then populated by the Kushans and used the Indic script. It was one of the many kingdoms in the “Western Regions” (Xiyu) against which the Tang emperor Taizong waged military campaigns.
• Kuche, like many other neighbouring kingdoms in Central Asia, was influenced by Indian culture, religion and script, but was distinct from India, which lay south of the Himalayas.
• That Kuche, which lay in modern-day Xinjiang, was in the ambit of Indic culture only highlights the limits of Han influence in the region, the alien nature of which the Uigyurs have resisted and challenged through the centuries to this day.

Second example:

• Timur (Han China) sacked Delhi in 1398 CE. He had only recently overthrown the Mongol yoke of the Yuan dynasty in 1368 CE.

Chinese strategy:

• It is a fairly common refrain for Chinese strategists to play up the Chinese PLA as some kind of an invincible force.
• Chinese writings often refer to the 1962 border conflict as China having “taught India a lesson”. Of course, they conveniently ignore the drubbing received by the PLA in the military flare-up across Nathu La and Cho La in Sikkim in September 1967.
• In July 2017, during the Doklam crisis, the hardline Communist Party mouthpiece Global Times had called for teaching India “a bitter lesson” and had issued a thinly-veiled warning that in a military conflict China would inflict “greater losses than in 1962”.
• Following the unilateral actions by the PLA which led to the on-going stand-off in eastern Ladakh since April this year, the indefatigable Hu Xijin, editor of the Global Times, warned India on the same lines.

Conclusion:

• Chinese strategists often forget that the age of teaching anyone a lesson is over. Unilateralism and military aggression, especially against a large country like India determined to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity at any cost, will simply not work.
• The way forward, to resolve border tensions between India and China, is through dialogue and peaceful negotiations.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With reference to the Governor of a state, consider the following statements:
1. According to Article 174 of the Constitution “The Governor shall from time to time summon the House or each House of the Legislature of the State to meet at such time and place as he thinks fit”.
2. Governor has the responsibility of ensuring that the House is summoned at least once in every year.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
Answer: A

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