Mao ordered 1962 war to regain CPC control: Chinese strategist
Beijing: China`s late strongman Mao Zedong had launched the 1962 war with India to regain control of the ruling Communist Party after the debacle of his `Great Leap Forward` movement in which millions had perished.
This was stated by top Chinese strategist Wang Jisi, adding a new dimension to the conflict ahead of the 50th anniversary of the war on Saturday.
"The war was a tragedy. It was not necessary," Wang, Dean of the School of International Studies at Peking University and member of the Foreign Policy Advisory Committee of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, told PTI here.
Wang said he differed with the perception of many Chinese political and strategic analysts that the Chinese victory ended India`s claims on the border and brought about long-term peace.
"I think we need to do some research. One anecdotal story I heard was because of Mao`s own fear of his position in China in 1962 that he launched a war," said Wang, who according to senior Indian diplomats was often consulted by the Chinese leadership.
"In 1962, three years after the Great Leap Forward (GLF), Mao lost power and authority. He was no longer the head of the state and he went back to the so-called second line. The explanation given to us at that time was that he was more interested in ... Revolution and so on," he said ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Sino-India conflict on October 20.
GLF was a mass campaign launched by Mao to use China`s vast population to rapidly transform the country from an agrarian economy to a modern Communist society.
The movement turned out to be a catastrophe for China as millions of people perished in violent purges weakening Mao`s position as supreme leader of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) and he was sidelined.
"Naturally he (Mao) lost control of number of practical issues. So he wanted to testify and show he was still in power, especially of the military. So he called the commander in Tibet and asked Zhang are you confident you can win the war with India?" Wang said.
The name Zhang referred to Zhang Guohua, the then PLA commander of the Tibet Regiment.
"The Commander said, `Yes Mao, we can easily win the war`. Mao said `go ahead and do that`. The purpose was to show that he was personally in control of the military. So it had little to do with territorial dispute, (may be) something to do with Tibet but not necessarily," according to Wang, who was also associated with the Institute of International Strategic Studies of Party School of the CPC.
Wang`s version broadly supports excerpts from a book `The Red Wall`s Testimony`, which were published in the official Chinese language media here sometime back.
The strategist believes that most of the wars fought under the CPC leadership had strong links with domestic crises.
"Everything China did in the border war with Soviet Union was triggered by domestic crisis in 1969" and so was 1979 war with Vietnam which was launched partly because Mao`s successor Deng Xiaoping wanted to emerge as top leader, he said.
Asked whether he was convinced that domestic issues, more than territorial ambitions, prompted Mao to launch the war against India, Wang said "Yes yes I buy that theory because I looked at other episodes of history.
"The general conclusion is that (India-China) border war was neither based on real interest in getting territory nor solving territorial dispute."
Asserting that China did not gain much out of the war, Wang said he was told by a top Chinese diplomat who served in India that the "war was totally unnecessary".
"We did not achieve anything and the actual control (at the borders) remained almost the same. China did not gain any territory," he said.
When pointed out that China has taken over Aksai Chin bordering Xinjiang, regarded as strategic by India, he said "in the East (Arunachal Pradesh) we did not gain anything. Scholars should do some more research on the war. It will be fascinating."
About possibility of an agreement between the two countries, Wang significantly said the two countries should settle for status quo and seal the agreement.
"I think it (the border deal) can be achieved. Simply we recognise the status quo. Of course the Indians are very dissatisfied with the situation in Aksai Chin, so on and so forth. But you cannot fight another war to get it back."
The status quo was first proposed by Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, who succeeded Mao, but subsequently it was highlighted much by the Chinese officials in the last 15 rounds of border talks between the two countries.
"I hope we can sign a treaty based on the actual control lines. More difficulty lay on your (Indian) side not our side," Wang said.
He said the agreement could be reached with a "little bit of give and take just to show that we have negotiated to best interests of all sides and achieved something give and take but not like China giving Aksai Chin and India giving Eastern part," he said.
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