ACROSS THE HIMALAYAN GAP
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru
little is known in India of the present conditions in China. It is
generally assumed that China has gained her freedom from Western
imperialism. A resolution congratulating China was passed by the National
Congress although some of us pointed out the true facts and opposed the
to Soong Chingling, Selected Works of Jawaharlal
Nehru, henceforth, SWJN, Vol. 4,
and China -vast countries, but bigger than the size of these great
countries are the problems that face them. Both are world problems of the
first magnitude, and what happens ultimately in India or China is of great
significance to the world at large. It is right, therefore, that we should
know each other well and understand each other, for we may have much to do
with each other in the future.
for the Chinese translation of India and the World, J.N. Correspondence,
N.M.M.L. i.e. Nehru Memorial Museum and Library.)
are M two countries which have had so long and continuous a stream of
culture...The world today, so advanced in many ways. is yet showing
shocking deterioration of morality, and in arresting its spread, the
countries like Chine and India with their great cultures have a mission.
Vol. 9, p. 56.)
Asians are aware that the Heavenly Empire (China) is fighting for their
common aim. The Indian sympathies for China are understandable, as China
is nearest to us and our relations with her are thousand-years old.
Nehru Papers, pt.
III sn 284, N.M.M.L.)
sympathy goes for China for a variety of reasons. Like China, India is
aspiring and fighting for national freedom. The forces of national freedom
in both countries extend to each other the hand of sympathy and
support...India has a fourfold task to perform: (1) She must ceaselessly
condemn the dispatch of Indian troops to China and demand their withdrawal
as also that of Indian people attached to the British consulates in China;
(2) she must organise an effective boycott of Japanese goods; (3) she must
educate the people never to supply men and material to the British Empire
in its wars; and (4) she must pay to China till it pinches. The ancient
friendship of the two peoples of China and India must now be reinforced by
the new camaraderie of the NO freedom-loving nations.
Vol. 9, p. 209.)
have had innumerable great demonstrations in favour of the Chinese people,
and the whole of India has felt at one with them in their hour of trial.
To send you our sympathy is a poor enough gift when you have to face great
trials and privations, even an account of which makes us shudder....I have
the fullest faith in China’s future and I am convinced that she will
triumph over her present difficulties.
to Soong Chingling, SWJN, Voi
.9, p. 632.)
two formidable powers in the world today are Russia and the U.S.A.... The
two would-be mighty powers of the world are India and China.
10, p. 117.)
relation of China and India goes back to thousands of years. Many of our
principles are similar and our gains and losses are complementary The time
is ripe when we should join hands and proceed on the path of freedom and
of Hindi broadcast, Chungking, J.N. Papers, N.M.M.L.)
wish we could do more to assist the China Defence League. At present
however everything is in the melting pot here as elsewhere....in
discussing the future of India and war aims and peace aims with the
British Government, we have laid stress on a free China. We cannot expect
the British Government to say anything which might create difficulties for
them with Japan. But we do expect that they will not alter their China
policy to the disadvantage of China.
to Soong Chingling, SWJN, Vol. 10, p. 552.)
Kashmir I was not far from Chinese territory and my thoughts often went to
China and what was happening there. There was Tibet, not far from us, and
Chinese Turkestan, but mighty mountains stood as barriers between us.”
to Soong Mailing
Papers, Vol. 13, p. 16.)
magnificent way in which China has stood up to Japanese aggression has won
for her the sympathy and admiration of India and of people throughout the
world....The Chinese people, engaged as they have been for two and half
years in a life and death struggle, have yet paid a great deal of
attention to...constructive activities....
recent instance shows how these industrial cooperatives deal with major
problems. The magnificent road that has been built from Kunming to the
Burma border is now one of the main routes into and out of China. This
road brings China very near to Burma and India and along this road, and
the railway that is being built alongside, will no doubt flow merchandise
and all manner of goods. The economic intercourse between India and China
will thus grow and the bonds that unite China and India will increase to
their mutual advantage.
seems obvious to me that in the future India and China will necessarily
come nearer to each other. By that I do not mean mere continuation of the
ancient bonds, although they will of course be there. Taking an objective
view of the world situation as it seems to develop, it seems inevitable
that in their own interests, China, India and some other countries of
South East Asia will have to hang together and develop together, not only
culturally but economically as well, through the contacts of trade and
commerce. They will not be able otherwise effectively to resist the
aggression of the so called Western Powers. . ..A strong and united China
and a strong and united India must come close to each other. Their amity
and friendship will not only lead to their mutual benefit but will also
benefit the world at large.
address at the Fifth Annual General Meeting of the Sino-Indian Cultural
Society, held at Santiniketan)
was through Buddhism that China and India came near to each other and
developed many contacts.
Discovery of India, Signet Press, Calcutta, 1946, p. 200.)
have seen how the Chinese people, after seven years of horrible war, have
not lost the anchor of their faith or the gaiety of their minds.
1946, p. 67.)
ancient wisdom of China and India, the Tao or the True path, wrote Tagore
to Dr. Tai Chi-tao (Dai Jitao), was the pursuit of completeness, the
blending of life’s diverse work with the joy of living.
India, as in China, learning and erudition have always stood high in
and India have stood for certain ideals in human life for ages past. These
ideals must be adapted to the changing circumstances of the world today.
But they must remain to guide us in the future as they have done in the
past. I trust that it may be given to our two countries to cooperate
together in the cause of world peace and freedom and that neither of us,
in good fortune or ill fortune, will lace our souls in the pursuit of some
news from China that the civil war has ended and a basis of agreement
arrived at to ensure the unity and the peaceful development of China has
been received with the liveliest satisfaction in India. ...The major fact
is that China has had the wisdom of compose its internal quarrel. This is
a matter of major significance to India to Asia and to the world. We all
look to China to take and lead in the regeneration of Asia. ...If China
and India hold together the future of Asia is assured.
that mighty country with a mighty past, our neighbour, has been our friend
through the ages and that friendship will endure and grow. We earnestly
hope that her present troubles will end soon and a united and democratic
China will emerge, playing a great part in the furtherance of world peace
over All India Radio, Sept. 7,
1946, ibid, p, 407.)
yet faltering like a patient getting up from the sickbed or a prisoner
released from jail, India is today among the four great powers of the
world, other three being America, Russia and China. But in point of
resources India has a greater potential than China.
to army officers, Oct. 19, 1946, The Hindu, ibid, p. 311.)
the previous summary Russians, Chinese and other nationalities are put in
a class apart to whom visas should not be granted without prior reference.
This, as I have stated above, is discrimination against some nations which
will naturally be resented. We are trying to develop friendly relations
with China and it seems odd that we should prevent the Chinese from coming
to India except on official or very special business.
to External Affairs Department, SWJN,
2nd Series, Vol. 1, p. 211.)
that mighty country with a mighty past, our neighbour, has been our friend
throughout the ages and that friendship will endure and grow.
speech at the Asian Relations Conference. New Delhi, p. 4.)
welcome you, delegations and representatives from China, that great
country to which Asia owes so much and from which so much is expected.
speech at the Asian Relations Conference, New Delhi,
Nehru’s Speeches Vol. 1, p, 209.)
more wonderful journey there can be than to follow the old caravan routes
right across Asia or from India to China via Turkistan and Sinkiang? I am
filled with regret when I think that perhaps I shall never have the time
or the opportunity to undertake this long, arduous and yet leisurely
journey. For many years I have gazed at the map of Asia and traced these
routes traversed by famous travellers. I have read many books about these
travels and sought to satisfy thereby my own wander lust. Asia fascinates
me, the long past of Asia, the achievements of Asia through millennia of
history, the troubled present of Asia, and the future that is taking shape
almost before our eyes. Perhaps if I actually visit many of the places in
Asia, about which I have read so much, I would be disappointed for the old
glory has departed and often where a proud culture flourished only a
backward desert now remains, It is more satisfying to see ruins which the
imagination can fill as it chooses.
to KPS Menon’s book: Delhi-Churtgking,
in SWJN, Second series, Vol.
2, p. 406.)
is more than 20 years since I had a glimpse of you in a Moscow hotel. Ever
since then I had hoped and wished to meet you again, for to see you and
meet you is to gain faith in the vital things of life, and sometimes one
wants that faith very badly. You have been a beacon not only to China but
to many people in other countries. I do not know if you would realise how
much your radiant personality has meant to others. I wish I could come to
China and meet you. for I fear you will not come to India. But why should
you not come to India for a little while? It till be good for us and good
for you also if I may say so. But whether we meet or not, I think of you
often and the photograph you sent me long ago looks at me and cheers me
to Madam Sun Yat Sen, in ibid, Vol.
7, p, 661,)
her letter, to Nehru dated April 9, 1948, Soong observed : “India and
China are like giant oxen, burdened with an irritating yoke of outside
interference pulling against the weight,of feudalism and exploitation”.
To this Nehru replied :We had more than our fill of trouble and perhaps
you have had more than your fill.“--Editor.)
a world point of view, probably the most important event is the success of
the Communist armies in China. Undoubtedly this is affecting, and will
affect more and more in the future, not only the entire position in Asia
but in the world. For us in India, it is of the utmost importance.
to the Chief Ministers, Ad. 1, 1949, ibid,
Vol. 10, p, 303.)
policy of some of the Western Powers has been generally to suport the more
conservative governments in South East Asia. This policy has failed. In
China, even big scale suport by the U.S.A. has not succeeded in making any
difference. Indeed, psychologically speaking, it has been a definite
disadvantage. People in China have felt that the Chinese Government was
becoming a stooge of foreign powers and have turned away from it. It may
be said that the, victory of the Communists in China is due less to their
inherent strength than to the disintegration of the Nationalist Government
and its exceeding unpopularity with all classes of people. It could not
learn the lesson in time and so it is passing into history.
is happening in China is of course of major importance not only to Asia
but to the whole world and every step that we might take in regard to it
has to be most carefully considered. Our desire has always been and is to
retain the friendship of the Chinese people and to cooperate with them as
far as possible. That will be our guiding principle.
to the Chief Minister, ibid, Vol.
11, p. 269.)
question of Hong Kong will then no doubt arise and this may give rise to a
lot of trouble. Undoubtedly Hong Kong is Chinese and must, some time or
other, revert to China. I supose the U.K. Government must realise this,
although they have a perpetual lease of Hong Kong. No Chinese government,
Nationalist or communist, can agree to any foreign power holding on to
to the Chief Ministers, ibid,
Vol. 11, p. 275.)
Chinese revolution, as I have previously pointed out to you, is one of the
biggest changes and upheavals in history and it is going to have very far-reaching consequences. Those consequences
cannot simply be judged in terms of communism. This Chinese revolution has
been said to be a continuation of the revolution that started in China in
1911 when the Manchu dynasty was thrown out. Since then, for these long
years, China has been in great travail and her millions have suffered
terribly, and essentially all these ups and downs of forty-eight years
have been parts of a major agrarian revolution. No one can say what the
future of China will be. The country will still take a fairly considerable
time to settle down in any form. Standards are very low there and
communism by itself does not raise standards, though a better organisation
of the agrarian system does relieve the burden on the peasantry to some
extent. Ultimately standards can only be raised by greater production as
well as proper distribution.
observers, well-acquainted with the Chinese scene, say that the leaders of
the Chinese communists are certainly one hundred per cent Marxists, but
their interpretation of Marxism is not always in line with the present
Russian interpretation. Apart from this it is always made to fit in
realistically with conditions in China. I think it may be said with truth
that in spite of the sympathy that the Soviet Russia has for communist
China, the former has not viewed with favour many developments in China.
Only four years ago, Soviet Russia, in a sense, disowned the communists of
China by making a treaty with the Nationalist Government. It is also, on
the whole, true that the Soviet Russia has not helped with any supplies to
communist armies of China. Their supplies had largely come from Japanese
dumps left after the War and from capture of American material given to
the Nationalist armies.
Chinese communist armies, therefore, have gained their success not with
Soviet aid but relying largely upon themselves. Therefore they are not
dependent on the Soviets, as many communist parties and groups in Europe
have been. They have shown this independence on various occasions. Their
leaders are undoubtedly able men and they have twenty-five years hard
experience behind them. Neutral and even hostile observers have stated
that their solution of the land problem is for the moment effective and
has given satisfaction to the peasantry. Also that their administration
has compared very favourably, both from the point of view of efficiency
and integrity, with the administration of the Nationalist Government in
China. All this leads to the conclusion that the agrarian problem is first
in priority in large pads of Asia, including India.
there is one point about the Communist victory in China. It continues an
agrarian revolution that has been going on for years all over Asia. In
India we have been wiser. We have broken up the big estates and are
bringing in a system of peasant ownership. We are giving compensation to
the old owners at a tremendous cost because we think it is cheaper than
violence. In China there are no concessions to this agrarian revolution
which has been captured by the Communists. Whatever one thinks of the
Communist victory, one cannot ignore this basic reality.
reply at the Press Conference at Ottawa, Oct. 24, 1949, ibid, Vol. 13, p. 404.)
common with other Governments we cannot ignore realities. The Indian
Ambassador at Nanking had been recalled to New Delhi to confer on the
question of recognizing Communist China. The basic problem of China is
agrarian and the solution of that problem will better the course of
developments in China. The same aplies to India. We are putting an end to
the big landlord system gradually. Thus one of the major upsetting
features of Asia has been controlled in India because of the
Government’s policy of breaking up huge landlord estates and farming
areas and distributing these among the individual farmers.
at the Verses Club, New York, Dec. 18, 1949, ibid, Vol. 13, p. 306.)
is the country for which I have the greatest admirations. There have been
big changes there. The honourable Member Mr. Hiren Mukherjee suggested
that we emulate China. I will be glad to do so as far as I can but I would
like to remind Mr. Hiren Mukherjee that till only a year ago, China was
looked upon as a country where corruption, black marketing and every kind
of evil prevailed. ...My point is that the situation in China today is not
quite what it was a year ago. Perhaps the People’s Government of China
is more effective that we are; let us by all means try to emulate them in
to Chief Ministers, Vol. 2 p. 25.)
are certain countries like India and China with pronounced national
characteristics where history and tradition exert a profound influence on
the course of events. I am sure there is a great deal of good in the
tradition. We should have gone under but for that.
nations have arisen in Asia with long memories of the past they have lived
through and with their eyes fixed on a future of promise, ...China has
taken a new shape and a new form. But whether we like that shape and form
or not, we have to recognize that a great nation has been reborn and is
concious of her new strength. China in her new-found strength, has acted
sometimes in a manner which I deeply regret. But we have to remember the
background of China.... We, in India, have had two thousand years of
friendship with China. We have differences of opinion and even small
conflicts but when we hark back to that long past something of the wisdom
of that past also helps us to understand each other.
is no reason, however, why we should not gradually develop these contacts
with great nations like China and U.S.S.R. Both these countries are our
neighbours and in the long run, we are bound to have greater dealings with
them. Indeed, so far as India and China are concerned it becomes
increasingly clear to me that the future of Asia depends very largely on
our contacts and association. That does not mean that we should copy each
other, to interfere with each other. It does mean a basic understanding
that our association is essential for the peace of Asia and advantageous
to both countries... If, however, we look at the long perspective of
history and try to peep into the future, ignoring for the moment our
present discontent, then the importance of India and China functioning
with a measure of cooperation becomes obvious.
Papers, Vol. 3, p. 5.)
it may be said that the three great world problems today are: the fate of
capitalism, which means the fate of Europe and America, the future of
India, and the future of China, and all three are inter-related.
received an extraordinarily cordial welcome everywhere in China....I was
greatly impressed by it. It was clear to me that this welcome represented
something more than political exigency. It was almost an emotional
upheaval representing the basic urges of the people for friendship with
our [Indian and Chinese] problems were alike that is vast countries and
populations, cheifly agriculture, with low standards of living and the
necessity to raise these standards by industrialization and agricultural
reform. Even in regard to floods, we had similar problems. Our approach to
the solution of these problems was not the same and yet there was much in
common with it and we could profit by each other’s experience, provided
always there was a friendly aproach and no interference with each other.
Vol. 4, p. 65.)
Mao referred to the age-old association as well as to the new friendship
between China and India. Both countries were struggling for peace. They
had more or less common experiences in recent history and both countries
needed to reconstruct their economies as both were industrially backward.
The Chairman considered that India was industrially somewhat more
major impression I got was of a country smoothly running with enormous
potential strength which was being translated gradually into actual
impression that I gathered was of the essential Chineseness of almost
everybody I met, from leaders to the public....
could not help feeling during my visit to China, even more than I have
done before, how completely irrelevant was the idea that this great nation
could be ignored or bypassed....The time has passed when they can be
injured much by [isolating China and not allowing China to function in the
United Nations]...it is the rest of world that is more likely to suffer
was not a threat to any country and wished to live in peace with all other
countries. But the U.S.A. did not permit her to do so and even brought
pressure to bear upon England, France, and other countries to prevent them
from co-operating with China.
Mao dealt at some length with the past two World Wars and their
revolutionary consequences. He pointed out that China had no atom bombs or
any equipment of the latest type. But the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. had both.
Ultimately it was the people who would count and who would be the deciding
factors. He pointed out that the experience of both the World Wars was
that the countries who started the war were defeated and those who were on
the defence won. Another consequence was revolution in some countries and
the freedom of some colonial countries. Thus, if unfortunately another
World War took place, disastrous as it might be, it would lead to the
defeat of the aggressors and possibly other revolutionary changes might
take place. He was not afraid of a war if it came, but he did not want it
because of its disastrous consequences to the world and because it would
come in the way of developing their countries. I was not fully in
agreement with Chairman Mao’s analysis, but I entirely agree with him
that war must be avoided and every step which might lead to war should
also therefore be avoided.
was particularly interested in what was happening in China and I say that
the most exciting countries for me today were India and China. We differ,
of course, in our political and economic structures, yet the problems we
face are essentially the same. The future will show which country and
which structure of Government yields greater results in every way.
to Chief Ministers, Vol.
4, p. 73.)
©1998 Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi
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