“China’s India War; Collision Course on the Roof of the World” (2018) by Bertil Lintner

June 21, 2019

On the topic of the 1962 Sino-Indian War, China’s India War is a revisionist text that re-examines the long standing opinion on this conflict that it was provoked by Indian intrusion into Chinese territory.

For background, in 1962 and after tensions had been aggravated over several years, the Chinese launched a rapid, month long campaign to drive Indian troops back from the Himalayan frontier. The result was a comprehensive defeat of India’s frontier forces, national shame and a realisation that their military needed massive overhaul.

To date, much of the academic opinion on the subject has been formed by Neville Maxwell’s book India’s China War, published in 1970. It is (if the title doesn’t give that away) to directly counter some of Maxwell’s conclusions that Lintner has written his book.

Lintner contends that not only were the Chinese the real aggressors of the conflict, but that they had been preparing meticulously for the war for several years. He also spells out the reasons for the Chinese withdrawal from much of the territory they captured – often cited as defence for their being “the good guys” – and attempts to place the war into a much larger geo-political context, something he states has not been done by previous authors.

Meticulously covering the creation of the modern border and contested areas, the war itself and the long term consequences, Bertil’s book is certainly of use to anyone interested in the Sino-India war and the countries mutual relationship and histories.

But with the current situation, as tensions rise between the two Asian giants, China’s India War can probably expect to be of interest to those watching current events and the broader region to give context and understanding to the current political situation – something that will no doubt become of much greater interest and concern as both nations vie to become the predominant regional, and potentially global, power.

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