When the Chinese Central Military Commission drew up plans for a ‘war of extermination’ which would ‘gnaw the flesh off the bones’ of Indian forces in the Himalayas in 1962, China’s leaders believed that they were solving a problem. ‘It was India,’ as vice minister Zhang Hanfu said to the Soviet ambassador at the time, ‘that rejected peace talks to solve the Sino-Indian border issue, while China consistently adhered to a peaceful solution.’
And so the China-India Border War began, with Chinese troops sweeping through the disputed Himalayan territories, driving Indian soldiers from their positions. To China’s Communist party, military victory meant that India and China would soon be friends. ‘Our conflict with India is one finger out of ten,’ argued Mao.