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When CIA feared China could attack India again after bloody 1962 war

New Delhi: Though China emerged victorious in the bloody 1962 war with India, it still baffled the Americans for months who were worried that Beijing could again strike against New Delhi through Tibet, Myanmar and even Nepal and Bhutan.

According to a Hindustan Times report, the Chinese troops Chinese troops mounted an offensive in October 1962 following a string of skirmishes along the disputed frontier and, later advanced into Ladakh and the North East Frontier Agency (NEFA, now the state of Arunachal Pradesh). 

However, a month later, China announced a unilateral truce and withdrew its troops.

But by January 1963, US intelligence officials began examining the possibility of China “giving the Indians another black eye”, revealed the recently declassified documents posted on the Central Intelligence Agency’s website. 

The documents reveal that CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency and United States Intelligence Board made several assessments over a period of months, analysing possible attacks by China on India through neighbouring countries. 

The US intelligence officials estimated that the Chinese could mobilise a little more than 120,000 troops for such attacks and also assessed the air threat to India.

A DIA document, titled “The Chinese Communist ground threat to India”, which was prepared up less than six months after the 1962 war, also concluded that China had the capability to carry out attacks in Ladakh, through border passes between Ladakh and Nepal, across eastern Bhutan and NEFA into Assam.

The DIA report concluded that such an attack would extend the Chinese control to the town of Leh, seizing the territorial claim north of Joshimath, the “eventual occupation” of Nepal to forestall Indian intervention and the “effective occupation” of NEFA and the part of Assam north of the Brahmaputra river. 

The DIA report, however, estimated that the occupation of Assam would require a “strong and permanent lodgement” in the Guwahati area.

A May 1963 top secret memorandum from the CIA and USIB also concluded the “government of Burma (now Myanmar) would not resist the movement of Chinese troops” for a possible attack on India and would even “acquiesce” in the use of Burmese transportation facilities and airfields.

Both the CIA and DIA believed that China could possibly attack India through Burma via two routes – the Kunming-Dibrugarh road via Ledo and the Kunming-Tezpur road via Mandalay and Imphal.

Interestingly, the CIA concluded that China posed only a “limited air threat” to India because of the weakness in “equipment and combat proficiency” of the air force and the lack of adequate bases in the Himalayan region.

Nearly a year after the 1962 war, CIA deputy director Ray Cline informed McGeorge Bundy, special assistant to President John F Kennedy, that there were “strong reasons to be concerned about the possibility of a Chinese Communist attack on the Sino-Indian border”.

Source: Zee News