The story started in 1904, where the rapaciousness of the British for everything resulted in Britain invading Tibet. As a consequence of that, Britain forced Tibet to accept to a border demarcation between British India and Tibet in 1914. China, though invited, didn’t sign the border agreement. This was never seriously enforced till even 1947 where Tawang was under Tibetan control and everything else, no one bothered, even though North East Frontier Territory was formed in 1944. With the independence of India and the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1949, things came to a head on again. Jawaharlal Nehru ‘assumed’ that China didn’t bother about Inner Tibet, the territory under Indian control when India signed a treaty with China accepting it’s claim over Tibet. Based on this, India under Nehru published maps including Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh on it’s side of the border and on failure of 1959 Tibetan uprising and the escape of the Dalai Lama into India, ordered forward military posts all along the line. China occupied the Indian post of Longju just north of Macmohan line and then proposed to India, to withdraw 20 km back from the border. Well, Nehru is not to listen. He ordered the army to set up military posts, including 43 even north of Chinese Line of Actual Control in November 1961.
The actual flare up came in June 1962 when India setup a post at Dhola, which China protested. After building up forces, China launched a massive invasion across the border both in Aksai Chin in Ladakh, which will wait for another day, and in Arunachal Pradesh. The War on Eastern Theatre Started on 20 October 1962. Fearing cutoff, Indian troops retreated into Bhutan, which China didn’t attack. Chinese troops, sweeping everything in the way, crossed the Macmohan Line on 22 October. Tawang fell without a fight. China then proposed a ceasefire on 24 October, with withdrawn lines 20 km from the current position, which ironically, Nehru rejected on 14 Novemeber, even from a position of weakness. China launched the offensive again on 17 November and advanced till Thembang, which is in the middle of Arunachal Pradesh vertically and around 75 km from Bhutanese border. China declared a ceasefire on 19 November, effective from 21 November. China unilaterally withdrew back to Macmohan line making this more of a cross-border raid than a war. It is but worthy to notice that China gained a trifle even in Ladakh – all Aksai Chin was already in it’s control. There was limited action in Sikkim and there were no major events.
Well, this is not the end of the story.
Next was the war of 1967 in Sikkim. On the demarcated border in the centre of Nathula Pass, there was an altercation on 6 September 1967 where the political commissar Chinese had fell down and broke his spectacles. To avoid any escalation, it was decided to wire the border between Nathu La and Zebu La. The wire laying is supposed to start on 11 September. China, suddenly, objected but the commissar was roughed up by the Indians. They, then retreated and retaliated with firing, caught in the open, India lost many of those laying the wire. Within half-an-hour, Chinese artillery started firing, but inflicted little damage. India retaliated, by pounding Chinese positions. By the end of the day, the Chinese positions in Nathu La were completely destroyed with 400 losses. India continued firing for three days till a ceasefire is effected. There was another flare up on 1 October at Cho La. China was forced to retreat from the pass for good and the position is still maintained by India. China accepted Indian suzerainty over Sikkim only in 2003.
Next was the flare up in Arunachal Pradesh in 1987. The view from 1962 was to abandon Tawang in case of any war with China. But, in 1980, it was decided that Hathung La should be fortified. They maintained a summer camp in that area till 1986 when Chinese reached the place before them. India responded by Operation Chequerboard by moving 10 divisions to the border and occupied Hathung La ridge between 18 and 20 Oct 1986. That resulted in a stand off all over the borderline and China called for a flag meet on 15 November 1986 to deescalate and India seeing China reluctant to fight, upgraded Arunachal Pradesh from a Union Territory to a state in February 1987. China was not able to do anything except transfer the Military Attaché in Delhi, the Military Commanders of Tibet District and Chengdu Region.
Synopsis? 1962, India didn’t have people because of which China advanced and then, immediately returned, in 1967, neither had strength and India booted out China, in 1987, both had people and China surrendered before a war. And note, in Ladakh, it was a status quo all along and 1962 enforced it. Now, the question is this. In this state of perpetual war between India and China, who is the current victor? And the next question is, why is Indian histography bent on portraying India as the loser with China even after India thrashed China in every bout after 1962?