Panchsheel Agreement invoked by China to Discuss CPEC: Is it Et Tu...

Panchsheel Agreement invoked by China to Discuss CPEC: Is it Et Tu Brutus Once Again?

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By Colonel Awadhesh Kumar, Veteran

Seeing that the future of ONE BELT ONE ROAD and a part of it CHINA PAKISTAN ECONOMIC CORRIDOR was quite bleak without active participation of India , China has once again invoked the Panchsheel Agreement. China wants to discuss the CPEC with India and wants to allay all the fears New Delhi is having with regards to Kashmir including the portion occupied by Pakistan.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry Mandarin said that China will always follow the Principle of peaceful coexistence to promote friendly cooperation along the belt and the road. Aim was to bring regional connectivity for common development and prosperity. The communiqué released after the May 14-16 Summit, among other things talks of consultation on an equal footing, honouring the purposes and the Principles of the UN Charter and International laws including respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of countries. Another part of the same communiqué read — We endeavour to expand people to people exchanges, promote peace, justice, inclusiveness, democracy, good governance, the rule of law, human rights, gender equality and women empowerment, working together to fight against corruption and bribery in all their forms.

Of the 64 Countries along the OBOR route, only 20 were represented by their head of States, where as 44 others sent only Ministers. Then there were 09 other countries represented by their head of states, but not included in the above 64. The notable absentee was India and that has made all the difference. This absence is already being felt by China and all others. Even though India was absent, China could not push through its agenda as envisaged by it and that is why this kind of Communiqué. So China is invoking Panchsheel once again.

Now let’s see what ‘Panchsheel’ is. It only was an “Agreement on Trade and Intercourse “between China and India signed on April 29, 1954 and which lapsed in 1962 and never renewed thereafter. Since the preamble of this Agreement contained the famous Five Principles, it was dubbed the ‘Panchsheel Agreement’ and it has till date kept its aura as the ideal solution to conduct foreign relations between two countries. In fact these Five Principles had formed the main pillar of India’s or rather Nehru’s   foreign policy for the next fifty years. This was the beginning of the Hindi-Chini Bhai-Bhai slogan and India’s ‘non-aligned’ position.

However one should not forget that the first result of PANCHSHEEL was that Tibet, a 2000-old nation was erased from the map of Asia. Next India was backstabbed in 1962 and parts of it are still under Chinese occupation. During a debate in the Parliament in 1958, the Socialist leader Acharya Kripalani had rightly stated: “This great doctrine was born in sin, because it was enunciated to put the seal of our approval upon the destruction of an ancient nation which was associated with us spiritually and culturally…It was a nation which wanted to live its own life and it sought to have been allowed to live its own life.”

A British Colonel, Francis Young husband was the first foreigner to enter   Lhasa and made the Tibetans sign an agreement with the mighty British Empire. Tibet was thus acknowledged as a nation by the British.

Ten years later, a tripartite Conference in Simla settled the issue among the British India, Tibet and China. This Simla Convention was still in force when India became independent in August 1947. In October 1950, Mao Zedong’s troops however invaded Tibet without any provocation and enslaved a free country with free people. A natural and cultural buffer zone between India and China thus disappeared without even a token protest by India.

This policy still haunts India and her border tangle with China still remains unresolved. Now just a few weeks after the Arunachal Naming Game and the tantrums shown by China with respect to Dalai Lama’s visit to Tawang, comes this invoking of Panchsheel.

Great Game China. However thank God. India has a new and different set of players under Captain Modi and Vice-Captain Sushma with coaches like Subramanian Swami and others.