Jawaharlal Nehru – India’s first Prime Minister, and for inexplicable reasons referred to as ‘Chacha Nehru’ was a wholesome Chinese poodle. It is not an overstatement to say that Jawaharlal Nehru acted as a Chinese agent in control of the Indian government. Jawaharlal Nehru’s prime ministership was marked by one disaster after another, concerning China. The man practically ceded all Indian advantages to the Chinese without any foresight. His only goal was to be seen as a statesman around the world, who steered an independent foreign policy for India not influenced by the geopolitical considerations of the United States and the United Kingdom. In doing so, Jawaharlal Nehru constantly bowed to the Chinese and ceded all leverage to the Mao Zedong-led Chinese Communist Party.
By prematurely ‘recognising’ the Peoples Republic of China, Nehru portrayed India as a desperate country that was impatiently wanting to give credence to the brutal Communist regime in China. By many estimates, Nehru showed an undying and toxic love for Chinese communists, fearing the prospect of Indian communists getting strengthened if their Chinese comrades were not given recognition and credence immediately. The Communist movement in India saw a sharp hike after independence, and in a bid to not infuriate India’s left-wing extremists, Nehru concluded that it was a matter of immediate urgency to recognise and establish formal diplomatic relations with the Peoples Republic of China.
Jawaharlal’s Inexplicable Love for China
In his book, ‘Glimpses of World History’, Nehru went head over heels for China. He described China as a great country and friend of Indians, even while the Chinese communists, led by Mao Zedong refused to reciprocate a similar sentiment. Even before China fell to the Communists in 1949, Nehru had deployed ambassador K.M. Pannikar to reach out to Mao Zedong’s forces, with the hope of establishing early ties with the camp which would soon gain control of China.
Jawaharlal Nehru suffered from a chronic inferiority complex. Therefore, he visualised Asia as a continent that would rise as a major global power only due to China. He said as much at the Asian Relations Conference in April 1947, where he called China “that great country to which Asia owes so much and from which so much is expected.”
Jawaharlal Nehru’s admiration of China continued well up to 1962 when the red rogue country mounted an all-out offensive on India’s northern frontier. Even in 1954, when China squeezed India out of Tibet in the Panchsheel agreement, Nehru called the five principles “wholesome” and erroneously described it as “a very important event”.
A Desperation to Recognise the Communist Regime in China
Soon after the Communists, led by murderous tyrant Mao Zedong established the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) and pushed the Kuomintang (Nationalists) regime into oblivion and into hiding in present-day Taiwan (Republic of China), the Nehru establishment was gripped with an undying urge to recognise the PRC.
According to Vijay Gokhale’s acclaimed book, ‘The LongGame: How the Chinese Negotiate with India,’ Nehru had recorded a note to the Ministry of External Affairs on 17 November 1949, in which he pushed for early recognition of Communist China. Interestingly, the foreign policy portfolio was completely hijacked by Nehru and his lackeys. The Cabinet played little to no role in India’s post-independence foreign policy considerations. Still, many from within the government voiced their concerns regarding Jawaharlal’s want to immediately accord recognition to the Peoples Republic of China and establish formal ties with it. Among those who dissented were deputy prime minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Governor-General of India, C. Rajagopalachari.
Nehru is on record for having subtly indicated that his cabinet does not have the expertise to deliberate on matters relating to China, and that hardly any of his cabinet colleagues have interested themselves with the developments surrounding the fall of China to Communists. So, despite the strong reservations of several stalwarts in Indian polity, Nehru went ahead with his campaign to prostrate before China.
The Recognition Blunder – How Nehru Ceded All He Had to China
Recognition of any country is a watershed moment not just for the two countries immediately involved, but for the world at large. The recognition of China by India too had global consequences. India enjoyed the stature of being a thriving third-world democracy with a non-aligned foreign policy. The recognition of the Peoples Republic of China by India and the derecognition of Taiwan as the Republic of China gave rise to a series of global powers legitimising the Communist regime in China.
Interestingly, Jawaharlal Nehru, soon after the formation of the PRC, was gripped by an urgency to recognise Communist China. He confined India’s strategy of dealing with China under certain limits of time. This was done to project himself as a leader who did not follow the UK and Commonwealth’s lead, but instead, took independent foreign policy decisions. The desperation of Nehru to recognise China immediately, and in the process, gift the Chinese with all of India’s leverage was a geopolitical blunder that haunts India to this very day.
India also remained immune to the use of undignified language against Nehru. China referred to him as a “lackey” of the British and the Americans and used disparaging language, calling Nehru’s resolution in the United Nations (UN) General Assembly on repatriation of prisoners of war in Korea as “parent of all evils”. As a matter of fact, despite Nehru’s brazen attempts at wooing Mao Zedong, the Chinese were hardly impressed and referred to India’s influence of the Himalayan country of Bhutan as “Bhutan’s enslavement”.
As stated earlier, when it comes to recognising a new country or regime, the onus of impressing the world community and carving an international standing for itself falls on the nation which seeks recognition. In the case of the Peoples Republic of China, however, Mao Zedong showed no urgency in winning international recognition. Yet, Jawaharlal Nehru pressed like a madman on the recognition bogey, in the process losing all leverage and giving rise to a monster that would affect India’s security in the long term.
India could have projected itself as a power that can always join the American camp in the event of China not according it a friendly status. This would spell doom for China. Yet, Nehru did not do so. India could have, as an influential global power, conveyed to China that it would be in Beijing’s best interests to play ball with a series of Indian demands, which would then become the stepping stone for China to gain international recognition. Nehru did not do so. What’s worse, India laid out zero demands which China would be required to fulfil to gain recognition. Needless to say, Nehru turned India into a desperate nation seeking ties with a Communist China like its fortunes depended on it.
What Nehru did do, indeed, was agree to all unreasonable Chinese demands. After he conveyed India’s willingness to recognise the PRC officially to Zhou Enlai, China mandated that India break all ties with the Kuomintang completely and transfer complete ownership of KMT assets and funds in India to the Peoples Republic of China. It also asked India to steadfastly support China’s bid to become a member of the United Nations. Little did China know that Nehru would go out of his way to even secure a United Nations Security Council Seat for the PRC, saying India’s time would come later.
Needless to say, India, under the unfortunate rule of Nehru, accepted all Chinese demands. Furthermore, in complete contestation of protocol, India sent its official – A.K. Sen, India’s liaison officer in China to Beijing to negotiate the terms of recognition. This, even though the venue and timing of such negotiations are usually decided by the country which is set to give recognition, not by one seeking the same.
Soon after recognising the Peoples Republic of China, Jawaharlal Nehru would be in for a big shock. As it turns out, for the Chinese, ‘recognition’ was not the same as the formal establishment of diplomatic ties. So, a confused India was then called to Beijing to discuss the modalities of the establishment of bilateral ties, and by now, New Delhi had lost all ground to China.
Jawaharlal Nehru’s blunders would become the bedrock of India’s many problems in the 21st century. Nehru’s abject surrender to China continues to have geopolitical ramifications for India even today. Nehru acted less like an Indian Prime Minister, and more like a stooge of Mao Zedong, impatiently trying to please Chinese communists, even while they treated him and India with absolute disdain.