The only major war in modern history fought between India and China ended almost as abruptly as it began. On Oct. 20, 1962, a multi-pronged Chinese offensive burst the glacial stillness of the Himalayas and overwhelmed India’s unprepared and ill-equipped defenses, scattering its soldiers. Within days, the Chinese had wrested control of Kashmir’s Aksai Chin plateau in the west and, in the east, neared India’s vital tea-growing heartlands in Assam. Then, on Nov. 21, Beijing called a unilateral ceasefire and withdrew from India’s northeast, while keeping hold of barren Aksai Chin. TIME’s Nov. 30, 1962 cover story started off with a Pax Americana smirk: “Red China behaved in so inscrutably Oriental a manner last week that even Asians were baffled.”
How Everything Can Change in One Day
The Himalayas were still and there was little clue about what was to come. Then one day everything changed. The above article represents an example of relative peace and stability going along until … one day there is not. Meaning that everything can change in one day. The world is fine one day and the next day it is not fine in a big way.
Tarek al-Tayeb Mohamed Bouazizi was a Tunisian street vendor who set himself on fire on 17 December 2010, in protest of the confiscation of his wares and the harassment and humiliation that he reported was inflicted on him by a municipal official and her aides. His act became a catalyst for the Tunisian Revolution and the wider Arab Spring that brought down governments. One day everything was relatively calm and the next day the world changed.
The attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 is an example of how YOUR world changed in one day. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife by Gavrilo Princip, triggered World War I.
As we move into the future things gradually change on many different levels. Then there are large changes that come upon us suddenly. This is system collapse brought about by the incremental changes that have pushed everything so far that they are no longer sustainable. Ultimately, causality is not linear – small changes do not necessarily cause small impacts. Sometimes the impact is massive.
China and India
China’s rise is suppose to be peaceful as we are constantly reminded. So why is there still a border issue with India? Why is China having a problem with Japan? Why is China having a problem with South Korea? Why is China having a problem with the Philippines? Why is China having a problem with Vietnam? China only resolved its border dispute with Russia in 2008 for strategic reasons. Why are some people worried about a war between China and the US? Why is China supporting North Korea and Iran, who then go on to threaten friends and allies of the US? Why is China, along with Russia and Iran, pushing for a new world order?
Should India be worried about China? What do you think?
Fifty years later, there are other reasons to be baffled: namely why a territorial spat that ought be consigned to dusty 19th century archives still rankles relations between the 21st century’s two rising Asian powers.