China considered Nehru 'discourteous' : Book


It also held the view that it was a "pity" that late prime minister Indira Gandhi "has also taken as her legacy the philosophy of her father embodied in the book Discovery of India," which China believes revealed his idea of a great Indian empire encompassing Malaysia, Ceylon among others.

The comments were made by former Chinese Prime Minister Chou En Lai to former American President Richard Nixon, who famously called Gandhi a "bitch" and a "witch" while his National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger called Indians "bastards".

The comments are now a part of the book 'Nixon, Indira and India: Politics and Beyond' written by a senior journalist Kalyani Shankar. The book, a compilation of the declassified American documents of the Nixon era, when US extended hands to China and India conducted nuke test, gives an insight into what America, China and Pakistan thought of the Indian political system as well as its future besides the contentious issue of Jammu and Kashmir.

President Nixon, during his historic visit to China on February 23, 1972 accused India of diverting US aid to buy arms from Russia while saying he will send "substantial" amounts of economic assistance to Pakistan, which it can use to acquire arms from other sources.

Nixon said, "The problem is to find some way that West Pakistan can find some military equipment and assistance. On our side, what we will do is supply substantial amounts of economic assistance to West Pakistan. This would enable West Pakistan to --- we would think in the interest of its defence --- to acquire arms from other sources."

He added, "As a matter of fact, that is the tragedy of our policy in India. We supplied almost 10 billion dollars in assistance to India in the last 20 years -- very little was military assistance, it was economic -- and relived India so that it could purchase very substantial amounts of arms from Soviet Union and also manufacture arms. That was not our intent, but that's what happened."

He said the US will now move "in a very measured way" when it comes to its aid to India for which Chou replied, "And India is actually a bottomless pit." This statement by Chou made Nixon laugh, the declassified documents say.

The former US president said if India tries to digest East Bengal (now Bangladesh), "it may cause indigestion which would be massive." To this Chou replied, "That's bound to be so. It is also a great pity that daughter (Madame Gandhi) has also taken as her legacy the philosophy of her father embodied in the book "Discovery of India."

Chou, explaining the 1962 war, says it was forced to wage it and that India was encouraged by the Soviet Union to attack. "Of course, we won't send our troops to fight against other people. We didn't even try to expel Indian troops from the area south of the McMahon line, which China does not recognise, by force.

But if your (Indian) troops come up North of McMahon line and even come further into Chinese territory, how is it possible for us to refrain from retaliating. We sent three open telegrams to Nehru asking him to make a public reply, but he refused. He was so discourteous, he wouldn't even do us the courtesy of replying, so we had no choice but to drive him out."

Nixon, who was a staunch supporter of Pakistan, said it was sad that Kashmir has "poisoned" relations between India and Pakistan to which Chou said, "Britain purposely left that problem behind."

With regard to Nixon's relationship with Gandhi, the declassified documents show that he was unhappy with his meet with her in US over the hot issue of Bangladesh's fight for independence, and felt the former prime minister had "suckered" them, showing his frustration. During his talks with Chou, Nixon had said the US had made two mistakes with regard to India and Bangladesh issue.

Nixon said his first mistake was not seeing that Pakistan had enough arms to discourage an Indian attack and secondly his act of reassuring Gandhi during his meet as asked by his advisers. "So I spent the whole time reassuring her when I should have warmed her. So I am a hard-liner on India."

The book also reveals that the US did not have any inkling that India was going in for a nuclear test and later was worried that India might pass on the technology to some other country.

The National Security Study Memorandum prepared giving an overview of India's nuclear tests and the step that could be taken said, "The fact that India almost certainly acquired its plutonium from the unsafe-guarded CIRUS research reactor supplied by Canada points up the importance of the safeguards system. The risk that India will share its nuclear explosive technology with other states must also be addressed." 

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