How China Fights: Lessons From the 1962 Sino-Indian War

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by Yusuf, Mar 31, 2013.

  1. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    The rest of the world may have forgotten the anniversary, but a neglected border war that took place 50 years ago is now more pertinent than ever. Before dawn on the morning of Oct. 20, 1962, the People’s Liberation Army launched a surprise attack, driving with overwhelming force through the eastern and western sections of the Himalayas, deep into northeastern India. On the 32nd day of fighting, Beijing announced a unilateral ceasefire, and the war ended as abruptly as it had begun. Ten days later, the Chinese began withdrawing from the areas they had penetrated on India’s eastern flank, between Bhutan and Burma, but they kept their territorial gains in the West—part of the original princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. India had suffered a humiliating rout, and China’s international stature had grown substantially.


    The blitzkrieg sent crowds of men, women, and children running for sanctuary. (Larry Burrows / Time & Life Pictures-Getty Images)
    Today, half a century after the Sino-Indian War, the geopolitical rivalry between the world’s two main demographic titans is again sharpening, as new disputes deepen old rifts. Booming bilateral trade has failed to subdue their rivalry and military tensions, and China has largely frittered away the political gains of its long-ago victory. But the war’s continuing significance extends far beyond China and India. By baring key elements of Beijing’s strategic doctrine, it offers important lessons, not only to China’s neighbors but also to the U.S. military. Here are just six of the principles the People’s Republic of China relied on in attacking India—and will undoubtedly use again in the future.

    SURPRISE China places immense value on blindsiding its adversaries. The idea is to inflict political and psychological shock on the enemy while scoring early battlefield victories. This emphasis on tactical surprise dates back more than 2,000 years, to the classic Chinese strategist Sun Tzu, who argued that all warfare is “based on deception” and offered this advice on how to take on an opponent: “Attack where he is unprepared; sally out when he does not expect you. These are the strategist’s keys to victory.” The Chinese started and ended the 1962 war when India least expected it. They did much the same thing when they invaded Vietnam in 1979.

    CONCENTRATE China’s generals believe in hitting as fast and as hard as possible, a style of warfare they demonstrated in their 1962 blitzkrieg against India. The aim is to wage “battles with swift outcome” (su jue zhan). This laser focus has been a hallmark of every military action Communist China has undertaken since 1949.

    STRIKE FIRST Beijing doesn’t balk at using military force for political ends. On the contrary, China has repeatedly set out to “teach a lesson” to adversaries so they will dare not challenge Beijing’s interests in the future. Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai explained that the 1962 war was meant to “teach India a lesson.” Paramount leader Deng Xiaoping used the same formulation in 1979 when he became the first Chinese Communist leader to visit Washington and told America’s then-president Jimmy Carter that “Vietnam must be taught a lesson, like India.” China invaded its Southeast Asian neighbor just days later. (India’s foreign minister happened to be in China at the time of the invasion, seeking to revive the bilateral relationship that had been frozen since 1962.) China ended its Vietnam invasion and withdrew from Vietnam after 29 days, declaring that Hanoi had been sufficiently chastised.

    WAIT FOR IT Choose the most opportune moment. The 1962 war was a classic case: the attack coincided with the Cuban missile crisis, which brought the world to the brink of nuclear Armageddon and thereby distracted potential sources of international support for India. No sooner had the U.S. signaled an end to the face-off with Moscow than China declared a unilateral ceasefire in its invasion of India. During the war, the international spotlight remained on the U.S.-Soviet showdown, not on China’s bloody invasion of a country that then had good relations with both the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

    The pattern has persisted. After America pulled out of South Vietnam, China seized the Paracel Islands. In 1988, when Moscow’s support for Vietnam had faded and Afghanistan had killed the Soviets’ enthusiasm for foreign adventures, China occupied the disputed Johnson Reef in the Spratlys. And in 1995, when the Philippines stood isolated after having forced the U.S. to close its major military bases at Subic Bay and elsewhere on the archipelago, China seized Mischief Reef.


    Caught napping by the invasion, India frantically began training new recruits. (Terry Fincher / Express-Getty Images)
    RATIONALIZE Beijing likes to camouflage offense as defense. “The history of modern Chinese warfare provides numerous case studies in which China’s leaders have claimed military preemption as a strategically defensive act,” the Pentagon said in a 2010 report to Congress. The report cited a long list of examples, including the 1962 war, 1969 (when China provoked border clashes with the Soviet Union), the 1979 invasion of Vietnam, and even 1950, when China intervened in the Korean War. Beijing called its 1962 invasion a “defensive counterattack,” a term it subsequently used for the invasion of Vietnam and the seizure of the Paracel Islands, Johnson Reef, and Mischief Reef.

    DARE Risk-taking has long been an integral feature of Chinese strategy. Willingness to take military gambles was evident not only under Mao Zedong’s zigzag helmsmanship but even when the rigorously pragmatic Deng invaded Vietnam, disregarding the possibility of Soviet intervention. And the risk-taking paid off each time. The past success may give Beijing confidence to take even more chances in the future, especially now that China has second-strike nuclear capability and unprecedented economic and conventional military strength.

    The 1962 war took place at a time when the People’s Republic was poor, internally troubled, and without nuclear weapons. But it showed the world how China’s generals think. And it helps explain why Beijing’s rapidly growing military power is raising serious concern.

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/newswe...ction_ref_map={"10151268271146413":"article"}
     
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  3. sesha_maruthi27

    sesha_maruthi27 Senior Member Senior Member

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    If INDIRA was the PM then the Chinese would have tasted their own medicine of strategy and preemptive attack with full force in reactive manner from the INDIAN SIDE. As the NEWTONS' LAW which says "EVERY ACTION HAS AN EQUAL AND OPPOSITE REACTION"........

    Nehru is a coward and always downplayed the use of ARMY and its preparedness. Let this be the KASHMIR ISSUE OR THE 1962 WAR WITH CHINA........
     
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  4. Maharana

    Maharana Regular Member

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    A nice read. Provides a peek into the camouflaged Chinese way of dealing with its adversaries but I think most of its present & potential adversaries are vary of that be it Japan, India, US or the south-east Asian countries.

    The question is how to prepare oneself in advance, to counter these policies. The topic must have two parts, 'How China Fights' & 'Lessons From the 1962 Sino-Indian War.'

    The author, Mr. Chellany did a good job in telling us 'How China Fights' but there is no mention of the lessons learnt from Indo-Sino War.

    IMO Nehru ji was a diplomat, not a strategist. Even during the struggle for freedom, Gandhi ji was the icon of freedom, the leader to set examples but the brain work was pretty much Sardar Patel's job. A big reason why he was the first Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of India.

    Indira ji was a brilliant strategist too. She made sure the tide rests with India and guaranteed the win for us by making East Pakistan so porous through Mukti Bahini even before she let the Indian Military lose to hunt down the Pakistani Army. Of course, the military mind of Sir Manekshaw and Col. JFR Jacob was with her but nobody can deny the capacity of Political planning & execution she had.
     
  5. sesha_maruthi27

    sesha_maruthi27 Senior Member Senior Member

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    INDIA lacks a leader like INDRA GANDHI in this present scenario of this present greedy world..........
     
  6. Srinivas_K

    Srinivas_K Senior Member Senior Member

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    Even Chinese dare to attack they cannot capture the Indian Land since the lkogistics are a big problem and the terrain is mountaneous. A guerella strategy by Indian forces will make China leave the Land and go back from where they came.
     
  7. no smoking

    no smoking Senior Member Senior Member

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    I don't think Indira can perform better than her father on this issue. In 1962, India army was not a force matching PLA which just upgraded itself in korea war.

    Nehru is not a coward. No coward would initiated "forward policy" which was an action of war. He was just stupid enough to believe that Chinese would just run away in front of indian military pressure.
     
  8. bhramos

    bhramos Elite Member Elite Member

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    [​IMG]

    ANGRY MOB BEAT UP NEHRU AFTER 1962 WAR!
    CONGRESS NEVER TALKS ABOUT THIS FACT!!!
    ----------------------------------------------
    IN THE NEXT ELECTIONS OF 1967, CONGRESS PARTY LOST POWER IN ALL THE ASSEMBLIES OF ENTIRE NORTH INDIA AND IN THE LOK SABHA CONGRESS WON JUST 20 SEATS ABOVE THE MAJORITY MARK.
    ---------------------------------------------
    PEOPLE DO NOT TOLERATE WRONG RULE! BE IT NEHRU OR BE IT ANYONE!!!!
     
  9. bose

    bose Senior Member Senior Member

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    Nehru was a big mouth fool, One have to know its own strengths & weakness before going out for any actions. It is the Nehru and in his time the Indian military was neglected and no proper strategy was in place to enhance the military capability. Yet Nehru put the unprepared Indian Army into this difficult position.

    From Indian point of view Nehru did a blunder and he deserved to be criticized.

    I am sure Indira would be better than Nehru and have done a proper calculation before any action.
     
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  10. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    In his rule India had first defense scams related to import of ' 4x4 Jeeps ' ..
     
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  11. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    To fight China, One must not think about fighting China only but any adversary from US to Russia..

    1. We should get what we need from inside out not the other way around..
    2. We should know our weakness and admit it and rectify it..
    3. We should improvise where we need too..
    4. We should be per-planned in our approach with relation to tactical objectives..
    5. We Should think about victory, nothing else..
    6. We Must have a end game plan..
     
  12. no smoking

    no smoking Senior Member Senior Member

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    It would be the fault of whole india system at the time rather than Nehru's individual problem. India was just 15 years after its independence, most of its gov organization were newly created and full of unexpereinced staffs. Most importantly, most of india's senior officers in the army used to fight under the command of Britishs, they lack the experience of managing a war.
    India intellegence was even worse: they didn't know how to carry some basic jobs.

    With such terrible support, I don't think anyone can make proper calculation.

    It is not that Indira is better. Instead, the key difference is the whole system which had been improved greatly since 1962.
     
  13. bose

    bose Senior Member Senior Member

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    India learned a lesson from 1962 a need for credible military force is absolute necessary, only big mouthing Utopian ideas does not cut anymore... It was indeed a multiple failure of intelligence gathering and leadership for some key individuals.

    I would say Indira was more receptive and calculative in nature than Nehru, may be a fall out of the 62.

    Although Off topic: I would go on to say the 1962 disaster and the 1965 war has open India's eyes and these two events have turned India more pragmatic and need to understand one's strength and weakness.
     
  14. captonjohn

    captonjohn Regular Member

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    History indicates that before making any attack on any country China works on exit policy. Chinese do have the exit policy and surprise is their key strategy. They will attack suddenly and then will run away. China may attack in very quick and sudden way and will retreat when they will find that she has gave enough harm to Indian Army and now IA is capable of dealing with Chinese aggression.

    Fighting inside our territory won't help until we change our policy to fight inside Chinese land. In this way we won't leave chinese if they retreat after attack and push them inside their territory.
     
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  15. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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    Last edited: Apr 3, 2013
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    China's Nuclear Forces: Operations, Training, Doctrine, Command, Control and Campaign Planning
     
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    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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