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Panchsheel imperative vis-a-vis Sino-India border issue

Written by: Staff

Beijing, Sep 10: Is Panchsheel relevant for improving Indo-China relations in the wake of the unsolved border issue and Sino-Pak deep-rooted links? Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Kong Quan asserts that Panchsheel is still a strong basis for the Chinese foreign policy.

''Panchsheel is of great relevance in the international relationship and 51 years of its existence is testimony to this. We should emphasise on compliance with Panchsheel as well as the UN Charter and other required norms for equality, peaceful coexistence for world peace and prosperity,'' he adds.

Asked if China will persuade Pakistan to embrace Panchsheel, the Minister replies, ''India is a good friend of China and so is Pakistan. Both are important in South Asia. We wish for good neighbourly relations between them. In the new world scenario, we see improvement in bilateral relations between India and Pakistan, which is imperative for maintaining peace and stability in the sub-continent.'' Xinhua news agency Deputy Chief Editor Liu Jiang opines that Panchsheel is a valuable asset and instrument for peace in the world.

Both Indian and Chinese experts tell a visiting UNI correspondent, ''Panchsheel has become imperative towards achieving the common goals of peace and development.'' The Panchsheel principles ''of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other's internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit and peaceful co-existence'' have not only stood the test of time but emerged as a major positive element in strengthening ties.

''If the 21st century is going to be the century of Asia, the two countries have a special role to play in promoting the concept of Panchsheel,'' as enunciated by New Delhi and Beijing over five decades back.

The experts point out that recent developments reflect the Panchsheel-based readiness on part of both nations to resolve differences including the border issue, in a proactive manner without letting them become a spanner in the works and thereby impede continued development of bilateral relations. An appraisal of developments in the recent past, including reciprocal visits by leaders, makes the experts feel the fresh piecemeal approach to complex ground realities. It kindles hope for both countries becoming proximous, emerging as friends and likely partners for the Asian century, paving way for removal of irritants in due course of time.

They concur that the ''extent of success of Panchseel will very much depend on the success of resolving the boundary question and China's attempts to impress upon Pakistan for acceptance of India's offer to embrace Panchsheel.'' They, however, prefer to refrain from any debate on the 1962 conflict and refuse to apportion blame for it.

Besides, the experts feel that both nations should emerge from the shadow of the 1962 conflict and take sincere initiatives to build up mutual trust and understanding. For this, it is imperative that the countries refrain from viewing each other as a threat.

Referring to past happenings that hindered cordiality, they point out that ''China's alleged weapons transfer and supply of nuclear designs, components, material, other knowhow and facilities to Pakistan has been the most sour point of Sino-India ties. Arms supply to other neighbours such as Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal also raised all kinds of doubts in India, apprehending encirclement.'' On the other side, India highlighted China being the key factor behind Pokhran-II -- New Delhi's decision to conduct five nuclear tests that also jolted efforts of India-China rapprochement.

Sino-India cooperation at international fora has often frustrated vested interest among western powers seeking to employ similar linkage between nuclear proliferation, human rights and trade to pressurise developing countries such as India and China. The two countries have already evolved a fairly substantial common approach to various issues such as restructuring of the UN and other international bodies.

China has also made it clear that it would not oppose India's candidature for the UN Security Council's permanent seat, while India too supports China's entry into global bodies.

With Panchsheel serving as the foundation for ties, India and China are much closer than before.

With China recognising Sikkim as an integral part of India and the shift in China's policy on Kashmir, there are signs of hope of India and China joining hands to dominate the world scene.

As the nations possess tremendous potential for cooperation in working together, Chinese officials feel that the international community should take a cue to accept the five principles of peaceful coexistence as the norm for global relations.

Since 1986, the Sino-Indian border has not suffered any major disruption as compared to the incessant firing incidents and infiltration along the Indo-Pak border.

This makes India's border with China an almost ideal instance of good neighbourly relations and has generated a great deal of mutual trust, kindling hope of the prospect of final resolution of the border issue.

Besides India-China talks on the boundary question, bilateral trade and commerce have been progressing normally while other business and cultural interaction continues sans interruption.

Beyond the borders, once again the spirit of 'Hindi Chini bhai bhai' is discernible, which further facilitates the process of peace and development in the sub-continent.


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