Amid chill in relations, new PLA history returns spotlight to 1962 war

Contact Counsellor

Amid chill in relations, new PLA history returns spotlight to 1962 war

  • Ahead of the 60th anniversary of the 1962 India-China war which falls in October this year, official Chinese military researchers have compiled a new history of the war.
  • It reassessed its significance and legacy, bringing the spotlight back to the war amid the current tensions in relations.

The Renewed Attention

  • India-China war hasn’t been covered as extensively in Chinese films, television dramas or in the media.
  • That is now changing with a renewed attention on 1962 following the Line of Actual Control (LAC) crisis which began in April 2020 and particularly after the June 15, 2020 clash in Galwan Valley.
  • The recent plunge in relations has coincided with greater interest both in 1962 and on the boundary dispute.

A New History

  • To mark the 60th anniversary, some efforts are being made to brought together Chinese military researchers to compile a new history of the war.
  • It is titled “One Hundred Questions on the China-India Border Self-Defence Counterattack.”
  • Extracts of the book were published this month in the popular Chinese website Guancha.
  • The book is based on interviews with PLA veterans and focuses on Chinese military strategy as well as on the legacy of the war.

China’s words on 1962 war

  • Officially, China still calls its massive attack on India as a “self-defence counterattack”.
  • The book reveals that the CPC under Mao, very shortly after the offensive, decreed that all references to the war in China could only describe it as a “counterattack”, reflective of how the leadership looked to immediately turn on its head China’s act of aggression.
  • The significance of the capture of Tawang in 1962 was aimed to “demonstrate that China would not accept the McMahon Line” as well as its sovereignty over Tibet.
  • The extract notes that on December 3, 1962, less than two weeks after the unilateral ceasefire declared by China and it is stipulated that the war would only be referred to as the “China-India Border Self-Defence Counterattack”, a description that is still used today.
  • The book also looks at Mao’s decision to go to war and says he believed the offensive would, somewhat counterintuitively, “create conditions for a peaceful settlement of the Sino-Indian border issue”.


  • China’s military success in 1962 to the fighting experience gained by the military first in the war against Japan and subsequently in the war in Korea fighting U.S. troops.
  • Those wars have occupied the spotlight in official Chinese military histories.
  • With the resurgence of tensions along the India-China border and ahead of the upcoming anniversary, the India-China war is now back in the spotlight.