Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

China’s ‘Five Principles’ of Foreign Policy


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Panchsheel policy

Why in the News? 

China is set to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, a foreign policy concept initially outlined in a 1954 agreement with India, with special events scheduled for Friday, June 28th.

How it started?

  • Historical Context: India attained independence from British rule in 1947, and the People’s Republic of China was established in 1949 after a civil war victory by the Chinese communists. Nehru aimed to establish good relations with China based on trust and mutual respect, a sentiment reciprocated by China initially.
  • Origins and Proposal: The Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, known as Panchsheel in India, were proposed by Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai during bilateral talks with India over Tibet in 1954. This initiative was favored by Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
  • Panchsheel Agreement: The agreement, formally titled “The Agreement on Trade and Intercourse with Tibet Region,” was signed on April 29, 1954. It was intended to enhance trade and cooperation, establishing trade centers and pilgrimage routes while recognizing Tibet as part of China.
  • Principles: The five guiding principles laid out in the agreement were mutual respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty, mutual non-aggression, mutual non-interference, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence.
  • Bandung Conference: The Five Principles featured prominently in the 1955 Bandung Conference in Indonesia, which included 29 Asian and African countries. The principles were co-opted into a 10-point declaration and later became central to the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).

Present Scenario:

  • After the India-China War of 1962: The principles of Panchsheel were severely undermined by the Sino-Indian War in 1962, leading to criticism of Nehru for misjudging Chinese intentions.
  • China’s Foreign Policy Shift: Over the past three decades, especially under President Xi Jinping, China has adopted a more aggressive foreign policy. This includes territorial claims in the South China Sea and hostile situations with neighbouring countries.
  • China’s Relations with the U.S: China’s relationship with the United States has been marked by hostility, characterized by trade and diplomatic challenges to American dominance globally.
  • India-China Relations Today: Since 2020, Indian and Chinese forces have been in a standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, with repeated but unsuccessful attempts to resolve the conflict.
  • Commemoration of 5 Principles by China: Despite the current strained relations, China commemorates the 70th anniversary of the Five Principles with a forward-looking theme, emphasizing building a community with a shared future for mankind.

Way forward: (What can India do?)

  • Engage in Diplomatic Dialogue: Despite historical tensions, maintaining open lines of diplomatic communication with China is crucial. India can continue efforts to engage in dialogue at multiple levels to manage and resolve bilateral disputes, including the ongoing situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh.
  • Strengthen Regional Alliances: Enhancing partnerships with other countries in the region and beyond can provide India with strategic leverage. Strengthening alliances through economic cooperation, military partnerships, and cultural exchanges can help counterbalance China’s influence and foster stability in the region.
  • Focus on Economic and Technological Development: Investing in economic growth and technological advancement can bolster India’s position on the global stage. Developing robust infrastructure, promoting innovation and entrepreneurship, and advancing sustainable development goals can strengthen India’s resilience and competitiveness in the face of geopolitical challenges.

Mains PYQ: 

Q China is using its economic relations and positive trade surplus as tools to develop potential military power status in Asia’, In the light of this statement, discuss its impact on India as her neighbor. (UPSC IAS/2017)

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Join us across Social Media platforms.

💥Mentorship New Batch Launch
💥Mentorship New Batch Launch