Fifty years ago, on the morning of October 20, 1962, China’s People’s Liberation Army assaulted Indian military positions along their disputed frontier. The Chinese attack, justified domestically and abroad as self-defense, resulted in the only major armed conflict in modern times between the world’s two most populous countries. The Indian military, poorly prepared and naively led, was routed. A second major Chinese assault the following month forced India’s Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to write to President John F. Kennedy in desperation to request air support from the United States. Having brought India to its knees, Beijing declared a unilateral ceasefire on November 21, and the PLA withdrew to its pre-war positions.
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