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India’s External Affairs Minister: The 1954 peaceful co-existence deal with China over Tibet hard to understand today

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(TibetanReview.net, Jan05’24) – India’s External Affairs Minister, Mr S Jaishankar, has on Dec 2 called the country’s Panchsheel agreement with China an example of past government action which is very difficult to understand today. The agreement, signed on Apr 29, 1954, is the first time India officially recognized “Tibet” as a “region of China”. It came after China militarily invaded Tibet and illegally annexed it over 1949-51.

During an interview with news agency ANI, the minister was asked whether India always lost to China at the mind games.

And he has responded by saying, “I don’t think we always lost out, but at various points of time, when we talk about the parts of the past today would be very difficult to understand, Panchsheel agreement is another such example.”

Panchsheel, or the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence, were formally enunciated in the Agreement on Trade and Intercourse between “Tibet region of China” and India signed on Apr 29, 1954. In it, the two countries vowed “Mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, Mutual non-aggression, Mutual non-interference, Equality and mutual benefit, and Peaceful co-existence.”

However, the agreement did not stand in the way of China committing territorial aggression on India in 1962. The war lasted for about a month over October-November and ended in a unilateral ceasefire by China.

The Chinese withdrew from Arunachal Pradesh, then known as NEFA (North-East Frontier Agency) region, in the east but remained in possession of some 38,000 sq km of Indian territory in Aksai Chin in the west. Indi also claims another 5,300 sq km in the Shaksgam Valley of Jammu and Kashmir that Pakistan had occupied in 1947-48 and ceded to China in 1963.

The first example of “very difficult to understand action” he has cited is of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s rejection of a US proposal that India join the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), saying he won’t do it “at the cost of China”.

“It’s not my case that we should have necessarily taken the seat, it’s a different debate, but to say that we should first let China – China’s interest should come first, it’s a very peculiar statement to make,” Jaishankar has said.

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