India and China fought a war within eight years of signing the accord but as Vice-President Hamid Ansari touches down in China on Thursday evening both countries will join in to mark the 60 years of the Panchsheel treaty or the five principles of peaceful coexistence.
Besides bilateral meetings with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, Ansari’s visit is also expected to see the release of the first-ever encyclopedia of India-China cultural contact, a voluminous book compiled by experts and academics from both countries. It charts the two countries’ cultural interface over several centuries.
Accompanying Ansari will be Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry besides a delegation of Members of Parliament and senior bureaucrats led by foreign secretary, Sujatha Singh.
Ansari’s wife, Salma Ansari is slated to visit a children’s home in Beijing besides accompanying him to all official engagements.
Ansari will address members of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, one of the most influential think-tanks in the country, on India, China and the world.
“As a special gesture, the Communist Party of China (CPC) secretary of the Shanxi province (where Ansari will visit first before reaching Beijing), Zhao Zheng Yung will host Vice-President Ansari,” Ashok K Kantha, Indian ambassador to China, told Indian reporters in Beijing on Wednesday.
Ansari will also have bilateral meeting with Myanmar President U Thein Sein who has been invited by Beijing to participate in the commemoration of the five
principles:mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other's internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence.
But how relevant are the five principles in the present diplomatic context? It is still very relevant, according to Lan Jianxue Associate Research Fellow, China Institute of International Studies (CIIS).
“The five principles of peaceful coexistence were first ever brought up by Premier Zhou Enlai when he met with an Indian delegation in 1953. And then it officially appeared in the 1954 China-India Accord. They perfectly reflect and stand for the advocates from the developing world. The five principles are the backbone of Sino-India relationship,” Lan told HT.
According to Lan, the principles could prove crucial in resolving the Sino-India border issue.
“Mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual adjustment, peaceful solution and equal negotiation, maintaining the peace and tranquility along the border area, these four principles in accordance with the Panchsheel are the founding principles to resolve the long-standing border issue between India and China,” Lan said.