How China compromised its socialist ideals and moved closer to America in 1971


Yahya’s setback in the Kremlin was due to his narrative being diametrically opposed to the reports the Kremlin was receiving from its diplomats in Dhaka and Islamabad … Significantly, after the envoy left, the Kremlin responded positively. Indira Gandhi’s appeal for help with logistical support to deal with the worsening refugee crisis. He announced the dispatch of a fleet of transport planes with its crew and ground support staff and equipment to Calcutta to transport the surplus refugees … to the new … [camps] settled in Madhya Pradesh.

At the end of April and the beginning of May, it is also the moment when the question of Bangladesh has become a major pawn on the chessboard of international diplomacy. China was the first great power to act by openly warning India “not to interfere in the internal affairs of Pakistan.” If he did, he would “burn his fingers.” China’s open threat to India has caught the attention of all Indians, especially the leftists in West Bengal. What struck us as very strange was that the Chinese made no mention of the massacres Pakistan had resorted to, triggering the largest refugee exodus in history to India … instead of sympathizing with India, Beijing has stepped up its arms deliveries to Pakistan. and informed Pakistani Bengali envoy Khwaja Mohammed Kaiser that he had already issued a veiled threat to India that he would intervene if the situation warranted.

Not to be outdone, on April 3, Soviet President Nikolai Podgorny issued an ultimatum to Yahya to “immediately stop the genocide”, making the headlines of all Calcutta dailies. On April 17, Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin continued with a message to Yahya urging him to peacefully negotiate a political settlement with the stakeholders. He stressed that any settlement must take into account the “legitimate wishes of the parties involved in the crisis. In addition, the interests of the people of East and West Pakistan should be taken into consideration to find a solution ”(as reported by the Russian news agency TASS). [The diplomat] Gurginov informed us that the Kremlin, of course, had serious doubts about Yahya’s ability to find such a solution as it was aware of the state of mind of the regime represented by Yahya and also of the ongoing genocide in East Pakistan. .

The apprehension of the Kremlin had been conveyed to Mrs Gandhi’s advisers by the then Soviet envoy to Delhi, Nikolay Pegov. Soviet leaders suspected that the Chinese were in favor of prolonging instability in East Pakistan, as it would help them make significant political inroads into the region … Soviet leaders agreed with India’s assessment that the prolongation of the liberation war could help the Naxalite armed radicals to infiltrate. and take control of the liberation war by resorting to political subterfuge.

Declassified Indian records reveal that even Soviet Defense Minister Marshal Grechko repeatedly told then Indian envoy to Moscow DP Dhar that the threat to India’s security did not come not so much from Pakistan, which Delhi could handle on its own. It was more serious than its “unpredictable and dubious” neighbor to the north, China. Grechko had suggested to Dhar that “some kind of treaty of friendship and cooperation” between India and the Soviet Union would be a good preventive measure against the Chinese and Pakistani aggression against India. The same treaty proposal had been forwarded to Mrs. Gandhi’s advisers by the Soviet envoy to Delhi, Nikolay Pegov. The Indian Foreign Minister at the time, Sardar Swaran Singh, was lukewarm at the idea …

This assessment of China’s possible involvement in the East Pakistan entanglement prompted Ms. Gandhi’s political planners to fully support the Bangladesh liberation war effort. She pursued this goal with steadfast devotion even though China fired round after round in its polemical battle against the Soviets. Beijing’s position was that the “Soviet revisionist and social-imperialist” forces were in cahoots with the “great Indian reactionaries, hounds of the Kremlin” trying to invade and annex East Pakistan in their attempt to establish a state there. “Puppet regime, in so-called Bangladesh”. The Beijing salvo was in response to Soviet President Nikolai Podgorny’s April 3 statement calling on Yahya to “immediately cease committing genocide in Bangladesh”.

Almost at the same time, Indira Gandhi demanded an end to the massacres from Pakistan to Bangladesh in a more strident tone both inside and outside the Indian Parliament. Beijing’s provocative reaction to Podgorny’s appeal and Indira Gandhi’s speech were not unexpected …

The leaders of the Chinese Communist Party hoped that their anti-Soviet and anti-Indian outburst would appeal to President Nixon. The US president was trying at the time to build bridges of understanding with them and, according to declassified White House newspapers, had a “total dislike” for Indira Gandhi, whom he considered a “Soviet stooge.” For his father, he had “nothing but contempt and an intense personal aversion”. Also, as these documents reveal, he harbored racial prejudices against Indian women… Chinese leaders felt that the best way to tune in to the American line and get closer to the White House was to launch a virulent anti-Soviet and anti-Indian tirade.

It is very relevant to mention here that at a time when no Bangladeshi leader dared to assume Chinese leadership for his infamous anti-Bangladesh role, it was Maulana Bhasani, leader of a pro-Chinese faction of the National Awami Party, who had the temerity to send scathing telegrams to Mao and Zhou Enlai, openly questioning them about their socialist and communist credentials for not having supported the oppressed people of Bangladesh… At the same time, a highly respected and notorious literary icon from Dhaka , Shaukat Osman, who had sought refuge in Calcutta, in an open letter to Chinese Communist Party leaders, asked questions almost identical to those Bhasani asked, but with such panache and literary finesse as the local dailies of Calcutta could not help but publish it. Bhasani sent the telegram after arriving in Calcutta in mid-April and had discussions with Tajuddin [Ahmad] in this regard. But this elicited no reaction, not even recognition from the Chinese Communist Party.

Extract of Bangladesh War: Ground Zero Report (Niyogi Books, p. 209) by Manash Ghosh. Ghosh had predicted the coming of the war in January 1971 as a small reporter by writing an article in the Sunday statesman. He is also one of the few journalists to have covered the war from start to finish on December 17.


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