Panchsheel Agreement

About Panchsheel Agreement

The Panchsheel Agreement was based on the “Agreement on Trade and Intercourse between the Tibet Region of China and India” . It was signed between Chang Han-fu who was China’s Deputy Foreign Minister and N. Raghavan who was the Indian Ambassador. This agreement was signed on April 29, 1954, in Beijing.

The ‘Panchsheel Agreement’ was the pinnacle of Nehru’s Hindi-Chini-Bhai-Bhai agenda.

The Panchsheel Pact declared in its preamble that the two Governments “had decided that they should adopt the Five Principles of Panchsheel.

The Panchsheel Pact is made up of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. The Agreement on Trade and Intercourse between China’s Tibet area and India signed on April 29, 1954, was the first formal expression of these concepts. The 5 Principles enshrined in the Panchsheel Pact are as follows: –

  • Mutual respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty
  • Mutual non-aggression
  • Mutual non-interference
  • Equality and mutual benefit
  • Peaceful coexistence

History and Principles of the Panchsheel Agreement

The 5 principles were emphasized by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Premier Zhou Enlai in a broadcast speech made at the time of Asian Prime Ministers Conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka after signing the Sino-Indian Agreement in Beijing.

The five principles were subsequently modified in a form of a statement of ten principles issued in April 1955 at the historic Asian-African Conference in Bandung, Indonesia. The conference itself would lead to the foundation of the Non-Aligned Movement which gave shape to the idea that the post-colonial nations had something to offer to the bipolar world of the Cold War.

It has been speculated that the five principles had partly originated as the five principles of the Indonesian state. In June 1945 Sukarno, the Indonesian nationalist leader had proclaimed five general principles, or Pancasila, on which future institutions were to be founded. Indonesia became independent in 1949.

China has emphasized the Panchsheel Agreement at the start of the negotiations between India that took place in Delhi from December 1953 to April 1954 between the delegations from the two countries. The negotiations were about the disputed Aksai Chin and what Chine calls South Tibert and India Arunachal Pradesh. The 29 April 1954 agreement was set to last for eight years. When it lapsed, relations between the two had deteriorated leaving the prospects of tits renewal minimal. The Sino-Indian War of 1962 would break out between the two which would put an enormous strain on the Panchsheel Agreement in the coming decades.

What was the Significance of the Panchsheel Agreement?

  • The Panchsheel agreement was a thought-provoking move toward improving India-China economic and political relations.
  • The Panchsheel has achieved wide recognition since then. It is mentioned in nearly all of China’s treaties and bilateral agreements with more than 160 countries.
  • The Panchsheel is widely accepted, particularly among Asian countries, as the foundation for establishing a just and equitable world order.
  • The Five Principles were essentially in line with the spirit of the United Nations Charter, and they represented the interests and will of developing countries.
  • They were also mentioned and recognized in the Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, which was ratified by the 25th UNGA in 1970.
  • The Declaration on Establishing a New International Economic Order, passed by the 6th special UNGA in 1974, also affirmed the Panchsheel Principles.
  • Over the past 60 years, the Five Principles have proven their relevance by withstanding the test of changing world circumstances.
  • The Panchsheel ethos continued to be mirrored in world events, manifesting itself in the developing countries’ position in the North-South dialogue and other organizations.

What are the limitations of the Panchsheel Agreement?

  • China has repeatedly exploited this situation to strike India in the back.
  • The agreement was only good for six years, and it is a testament to China’s political savvy that they invaded India in 1962 until after it had expired and had not been extended.
  • It is no longer sufficient to promote Panchsheel as an alternative ideology that empowers the underdeveloped in today’s society.
  • In its preamble, the Panchsheel Accord proclaimed lofty goals such as non-interference in each other’s affairs and amicable conflict resolution.
  • It is important to note that Panchsheel is a global idea that applies to both rich and developing countries.
  • After its expiration, Panchsheel was never renewed. The engagements with the rest of the world will be determined by India’s development priorities.

Did China practise this principle?

  • Within a few months of agreeing to the five principles, China made its first attempt to infringe upon it by its territorial claim over Bara Hoti in Uttarakhand.
  • Throughout the latter half of the 1950s, Chinese intrusions, claims over territory and construction of roads continued.
  • Entire border between the India and China has not been demarcated formally and one can support the Chinese claims.
  • But it is to be noted that the traditional practices like the inherited treaties or the customs in place were predominantly in India’s favour.
  • China also blocked efforts by India to solve the boundary dispute through bilateral talks,.

  • The very initiation of the 1962 War was another violation of the principles.
  • The Colombo Proposals were the result of the Colombo Conference of six non-aligned countries to discuss the India-China border dispute.
  • While India agreed to the principles, China showed an inconsistent and contradictory attitude by agreeing with many reservations.
  • So five decades of no war is seen as mainly due the evaluation of the high price of war and not due to love for peace.

Why has Panchsheel been invoked by China now?

  • In contrast to previous confrontations, India has been proactive and aggressive in its posturing in Doklam.
  • This newfound assertiveness of India has left China stumbling for a gambit.
  • Peace is undoubtedly the best way to resolve the conflict but its application should not be selective and devious.

Source: MEA

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Q). Do you see a shift in India’s international ethics in light of its non-alignment policy? Give reasons in support of your answer.

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