Tibetan separatism and a desire to link Tibet with the rest of the country – rejected Indian territorial claims. The revelation of Chinese road building activity in Aksai Chin – territory claimed by India – further fanned nationalist sentiments. A failed Tibetan rebellion, supported by the US Central Intelligence Agency, resulted in the Dalai Lama and many of his followers seeking asylum in India in 1959. These developments, amid a number of other factors, culminated in a short but sharp Sino-Indian border war in 1962. The result was a humiliating defeat for India and the suspension of normal diplomatic relations between New Delhi and Beijing.6India’s tensions with China, however, also led to a period of unprecedented collaboration between India and the United States. Some in Washington feared India’s fall to communism and Chinese ascendancy in Asia. India’s Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru even turned to US President John F. Kennedy for help during the border war.7But the nascent security cooperation came to an end with the 1965 war with Pakistan, and the United States’ suspension of support to both India and Pakistan. In the years that followed, it was Pakistan that emerged as more important to US interests. Among other things, it became a conduit for the administration of Richard Nixon to engage with Beijing as part of its strategy to split the seemingly monolithic Communist bloc. There were direct costs in terms of US relations with India. The Nixon Administration supported Pakistan despite atrocities in what was then East Pakistan, while condemning India’s 1971 intervention that culminated in the creation of the new country of Bangladesh.8For its part, India prepared for its intervention by signing a Treaty of Peace and Friendship with the Soviet Union, effectively cementing an alliance with Moscow.After playing mediator and balancer, India suddenly found itself an adversary of both China and the United States. Between 1971 and 1991, India viewed both Washington and Beijing with considerable suspicion, and sided more explicitly with the Soviet Union in matters of defence cooperation and diplomatic coordination. The United States and China were also seen as the chief external sponsors of Pakistan, India’s regional rival. During the 1980s, the United States and Pakistan collaborated closely in supporting mujahideen against Soviet forces in Afghanistan. For its part, China transferred nuclear and missile technology to Pakistan, activities about which some in Washington had long been aware.9In the early and mid-1980s, China also hardened its position on the boundary dispute with India. While earlier countenancing the possibility of a status quo solution, Beijing became more assertive in its claims to territory south of the
PAGE 08REALISING THE INDO-PACIFIC: Tasks For India’s Regional IntegrationI. Uneasy Triangle: India’s Evolving Relations with the United States and ChinaBritish-era McMahon Line, which marked the de facto line of control.