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Around 20 Indian soldiers died in knuckle-to-knuckle conflict with their Chinese counterparts last week. The skirmishes occurred on the countries’ Himalayan border regions, where a split in opinion over territory has waged for over fifty years. Soldiers fought with sticks and rocks – without guns as a result of an historic agreement.
It was the first deadly clash between the two sides in the border area in the last 45 years.
The conflict largely stems from a territorial dispute that played out in what is known as the Sino-Indian War of 1962.
Today, new satellite images appear to show Chinese-built structures near the site of the border clash.
The images come as the nuclear-armed nations attempt to defuse tensions through talks.
China earlier this week, however, accused India of “deliberate provocation”.
Foreign ministry spokesman Lijian Zhao said the troops had crossed into Chinese territory and attacked, triggering “fierce physical conflicts”.
It is not the first time that China and others have accused India of being the belligerent force.
Yet, the narrative has long blamed China for sparking the conflict through a campaign of expansionism.
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The 94-year-old former Times journalist, Neville Maxwell, who wrote the notable analysis on the Sino-Indian War, ‘India’s China War’, is one of the lead proponents of placing India in the aggressor’s shoe.
In 2014, Mr Maxwell exposed a “top-secret Indian war report” that showed how the highest echelons of Indian power from the 1962 war pursued a strategy of provoking China without the means to handle a backlash.
The war was India’s worst military defeat, losing 1,383 killed, 1,047 wounded, while 1,696 went missing.
While India called the attack a stab in the back, China maintained that it was forced to counterattack in order to prevent India advancing on its territory.
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Mr Maxwell managed to obtain the highly classified Henderson Brooks-Bhagat Report – an operational view of India’s military debacle drawn up by Lieutenant-General Henderson Brooks and Brigadier Premindra Singh Bhagat in 1963.
The report has, ever since, been kept secret.
Many think this is intended to keep then Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, in a positive light.
According to South China Morning Post, the report “ is a dry army operations review, its terms of reference narrowed to military preparedness to insulate the civilian leadership from a witch hunt,” yet makes a “scathing implicit attack on top civilian and military authorities”.
The publication said: “They rip into the so-called ‘forward policy’ pushed by the Nehru government, under which Indian troops were told to advance from their existing positions to stake out new territory and force out the Chinese.
“The report details how this brinkmanship was forced down the throats of ground commanders despite their repeated warnings about reversing the border’s status quo without sufficient preparation.
“Such moves, they said, were bound to provoke the Chinese.”
Talking about the report being uncovered, Mr Maxwell told SCMP that “Beijing would welcome the revived attention to their India dispute”.
He continued: “Its lessons are that China is conflict-averse and will do all it can to reach peaceful solutions, but that it can’t be pushed around and will never back away from defending what it sees as its basic security concerns.
“If the issue becomes a fight or surrender, the PRC will always fight.”
The Sino-India war began and ended in 1962, lasting just one month from October to November.
A decade of intense change – the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 – led to China and India’s political and diplomatic relations spiralling out of control.
Things became irreparable in October 1962, when China’s People’s Liberation Army invaded India in Ladakh across the agreed border.
India had been confident a full-blown war would not commence, having made little preparations for such an event.
While India deployed two divisions, the Chinese already had three regiments posted, having already disabled Indian communications lines – cutting contact with their headquarters.
A series of tactical blunders throughout the war, which lasted from October until November, put India on the backfoot.
On November 19, 1962, China reached the area in which it claimed, and on doing so declared a unilateral ceasefire.
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