“I can say that China has been cooperating with India to search for solutions. The most important thing is that we can speak to China eye-to-eye and put forth India’s interests in the most unambiguous manner.” – Prime Minister Narendra Modi – in an interview
INDO-CHINA RELATIONSHIPS: REFLECTIONS FROM THE PAST
India and China – one of the oldest civilisations in the world – share many things in common. Both countries have large geographical areas, nearly half of the world’s population and consequently some shared concerns which relate to troubled borders, unstable neighbours, rising insurgencies and a surge in radicalisation.
India-China cultural ties date back to centuries and there is evidence that around 1500-1000 BC, conceptual and linguistic exchanges existed between the Shang-Zhou civilisation and the ancient Vedic civilisation. During the first, second and third centuries, several Buddhist pilgrims and scholars travelled to China on the historic “Silk Route”.
Historically, on April 1, 1950, India became the first non-socialist bloc country to establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Developments in Tibet in the early 1950s put a strain on their relations. Against this background, Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai on a visit to India in 1954 signed the Sino-Indian Agreement on Trade and Intercourse between Tibet and India. Through this Agreement, the two countries also agreed to abide by the Five Principles (popularly known as “Panchsheel”) which are as follows:
(a) Mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty
(b) Mutual non-aggression
(c) Mutual non-interference in each other internal affairs
(d) Equality and mutual benefit
(e) Peaceful coexistence.