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'Next big conflict with China to be on Indian Ocean'

Author Bertil Lintner at the launch of his new book said, "China never had a navy, now for the first time China is developing a blue-water navy."

IANS  |  New Delhi 

'Next big conflict with China to be on Indian Ocean'

The next big conflict with is likely to be played out in the and not on the Himalayas, according to acclaimed journalist and author Bertil Lintner.

Speaking in a panel discussion at the launch of his new book "China's War: Collision Course on the Roof" here on Wednesday evening, Lintner questioned China's newfound maritime interest under its One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative.

"You hear about this thing - One Belt One Road. They want to revive old trade routes," he said.

"Well, they once had land routes, yes, the But a maritime silk route? What's that," he wondered.

He said that the last time Chinese ships went into the was in the 15th century when Zheng He, who was a Muslim from Yunnan, sailed with his fleets of junks to India, Southeast Asia and Africa.

Stating that Zheng was only an adventurer, Lintner said that after that lost interest in the oceans.

"never had a Apart from river patrol boats in the rivers to suppress banditry in their own country, now for the first time is developing a blue-water navy," he said.

"They have never been in the for 600 years... I don't think there is going to be war in the Himalayas. Any conflict with is going to be in the "

In his new book, Lintner rather than India, despite being seen as the provocateur of 1962 Sino-Indian conflict, it was actually that started planning the war in 1959, much before then Indian Prime Minister launched the in the border areas.

Questioning Neville Maxwell's book "India's War" that opined that provoked the war with China, Lintner said that this did not make sense given the realities on the ground.

Pointing out that the of was adopted only in November 1961, the Swedish journalist, known for his expertise on southeast and south Asia, wondered how was able to mobilise tens of thousands of troops in less than a year, including heavy military equipment, through one of the most difficult terrains in the world.

Lintner is of the view that Maxwell must have made a misjudgment in saying that India's border issues with could have provoked the 1962 war.

Stating that in 1962 was an extremely secretive country, Lintner said that Mao Tse-Tung's (Mao Zedong's) position in the Communist Party of was extremely shaky after his Great Leap in the 1950s to industrialise turned into a disaster.

"In that kind of situation what kind of country will go to war over a disputed border?" he questioned. "Only a country or leader of a country who needs to unite the party, the government and the military behind him to be able to reconsolidate his grip on power."

As to why it was that went to war against, Lintner said that after Tibetan spiritual leader the fled to in 1959, it became convenient for Beijing to call New Delhi the enemy coupled with the border dispute.

Another reason that Lintner offered was that, with being the leading voice of the newly independent countries in the 1950s, Mao wanted to be the leader of the Third World.

Former Indian Army chief, Gen. J J Singh, who was one of the panellists at the book launch, said that it was high time got under China's skin.

"We must understand the Dragon and its Middle Kingdom," he stated.

Lt. Gen. S L Narasimhan (retd), a member of the Security Advisory Board, was of the view that with ties between the then USSR and being very low in the 1960s, Beijing wanted to prove that it was very powerful through the 1962 war.

Nitin Gokhale, founder and Editor-in-Chief of, said that Lintner's book made two very important points: it debunked the theories of Neville Maxwell and Alistair on the causes behind the 1962 war, and that used the war to purge his rivals and reinstate himself in power.


First Published: Thu, December 07 2017. 14:24 IST