The hostilities between India and China have helped to jolt the complacency of many Labourites and other social reformers who had relied on India to act as a bulwark of peaceful neutralism. The current incidents must be the last nail driven into the coffin that contains their hopes of everlasting peace, for the development of Capitalism certainly has a way of catching out its supporters!
The Indian diplomatic notes to China have a scholarly legal flavour. They say that the Indian Government inherited the McMahon boundary line from the British administration and this the Chinese should respect. But the notes fail to mention that when the British left India, they gave the option to the native states to join either India or Pakistan or remain free. Only Hyderabad, in Central India, and Kashmir hesitated. The Indian Government took both of these areas by force. Again in 1961 India marched her troops into Goa and annexed it, despite the fact that for 500 years Goa had had its own, separate history. It is obvious that mealy-mouthed legalistic arguments are only used when it suits the Indian Capitalist Government.
The Chinese Government says that the McMahon line was drawn up by the British when the Chinese Government was weak. They claim that they are no mere successors to the old regime; they repudiate the idea of two Asian powers being bound by international law over an agreement to which they were not parties. “Let us decide the boundaries for ourselves,” say the Chinese who are in possession of the territory in dispute, possession being reckoned as nine-tenths of the law.
Meanwhile, the winter is likely to prevent any further military action by either side. The Chinese, however, have prepared for their aggression by building supply roads in their rear connecting with bases in Tibet, whilst the Indians only have the use of mere tracks through very difficult terrain. Furthermore, the Indian military forces (those so-called guardians of neutralism) have been pinned down in activities against Pakistan within their own borders.
But after mentioning an exchange of words, we should then deal with the underlying economic motives, which form the basic reasons of much military action. Neither side is particularly concerned about a few miles of mountainous terrain, but with any further Chinese advance the India-dominated kingdoms of Nepal and Bhutan are likely to fall, together with some of the other frontier states, into the Chinese sphere of influence.
Nepal, for instance, is in internal ferment. The previous ruling class there —the Rana clique—were thrown out by the Government of the present King Mahendra with the help of India, whose capitalist class covet the Nepalese market for their manufactures (including military supplies). But the rising Nepalese nationalists have their own interests to safeguard, and this border has been a cock-pit for the contending Indian and Nepalese supporters. On October 5th the Nepalese Ambassador in London said that Nepal’s patience with India was at breaking point. These words bring back memories of Hitler, who also said much the same just before the last European War. It would probably suit the Nepalese trading interests to have China on their doorstep, so that they can get whatever they can from both sides. At present 99 per cent, of Nepal’s imports are from India and 94 per cent, of her exports, mostfy raw materials, go to India.
But there is more than that involved, for by forcing India into a state of panic and emergency the Chinese have wrecked India’s five-year plan for the time being. The plan’s industrial reorganization and development promise to be a threat to Chinese interests. Meanwhile, the Chinese population expands every year by the equivalent of the population of Belgium and industrial progress continues unchecked.
Incidentally, the Chinese are not the first Government to realise that a foreign military adventure distracts the attention of workers from their own domestic troubles, one of which — the food crisis — has become urgent with the failure of successive crops.
There is an incidental lesson to learn from this little war—the State Capitalism of Russia behaves like the older Capitalism of Great Britain.
While Great Britain is protesting her friendship for India, she is shipping all supplies possible to China, through the back door of Hong Kong. Likewise, “Communist” Russia, for all her “comradeship” with “Communist” China, is the supplier of the M.I.G.’s and probably other military equipment used by the Indians to slaughter the Chinese. Wherever we look in capitalism, business is business.
The war in India is no doubt just a part of a Chinese master plan, for the surging capitalism of China must either expand or burst, even though such expansion is done in the names of liberation, and fraternity. Hence the expansion of China’s sphere of influence into Korea, Mongolia, Vietnam, Laos, Tibet, and now the Indian border States. These are just milestones in the long march of Chinese Imperialism as it bursts bonds and expands across Asia. We can expect many more milestones yet, many more dead and maimed, many more refugees, now that the giant capitalism of China is awake and on the move. Here we see another bloodstained chapter of world history in the making, but there is nothing in it for the workers concerned. The fruits of victory will not he theirs—only the bloodstains.