Essence of the Panchsheel Agree­ment

Southasia - - REGION INDIA -

The 1954 Panchsheel Agree­ment came at the peak of the ‘Hindi-Chini Bhai-Bhai’ (In­dian-Chi­nese broth­er­hood) phase in bi­lat­eral re­la­tions. Five years later, Delhi and Bei­jing be­gan to squab­ble over Ti­bet and fought a brief war in late 1962. Nehru was un­will­ing to re­new the agree­ment, which lapsed af­ter eight years in early 1962. Speak­ing a few years af­ter Nehru’s death, his close con­fi­dant and de­fense min­is­ter, Kr­ishna Menon crit­i­cized the de­ifi­ca­tion of the five prin­ci­ples. If the Panchsheel, in Menon’s words, be­came “a mantra, slo­gan and a prop” for In­dia, it was very cen­tral to com­mu­nist China’s world­view.

The essence of the five prin­ci­ples fig­ured promi­nently in Mao Ze­dong’s procla­ma­tion of the new repub­lic on Oc­to­ber 1, 1949. Mao was cau­tion­ing the west against in­ter­ven­tion, re­as­sur­ing them that the new China would not desta­bi­lize Asia. When it came to In­dia, the five prin­ci­ples had great salience, for Mao had no rea­son to ac­cept Delhi’s spe­cial re­la­tion­ship with Ti­bet and the mul­ti­ple priv­i­leges that the gov­ern­ment of In­dia had in­her­ited from the Raj. For Mao and his able pre­mier, Zhou En­lai, the Panchsheel was about get­ting In­dia to ac­cept Chi­nese sovereignty in Ti­bet.

The Panchsheel formed the ba­sis of In­dia-China re­la­tions since the early 1950s and was of­fi­cially ex­pounded on April 28, 1954 in the agree­ment between the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China and the Repub­lic of In­dia on trade between the Ti­bet re­gion of China and the Repub­lic of In­dia. The ba­sic ob­jec­tive be­hind sign­ing the agree­ment was to pro­mote trade and cul­tural ex­changes between Ti­bet and In­dia and to fa­cil­i­tate pil­grim­age and travel for the peo­ple of China and In­dia.

Ad­di­tion­ally, th­ese prin­ci­ples be­came the main ref­er­ence point in the China-Myan­mar bi­lat­eral re­la­tions and later, in April 1955, th­ese five prin­ci­ples were also in­cor­po­rated in the 10-point dec­la­ra­tion on ‘the pro­mo­tion of world peace and co­op­er­a­tion’ is­sued in the Ban­dung Con­fer­ence. The sig­nif­i­cance of the Panchsheel can be gauged from the fact that th­ese five prin­ci­ples were unan­i­mously adopted by the United Na­tions on De­cem­ber 11, 1957, as a code of con­duct in in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions.

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