Shared Vision

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s three day visit to China recently could not have come at a better time when there is an urgent need for the two Asian giants to come together in greater unison on a number of regional and global challenges including the political situation in Pakistan. The visit of the Indian Prime Minister was therefore extremely significant so as to reinvigorate ties between the two countries as also to give direction on the future course of this very important relationship. What needs to be noted is that unlike in the past, in today’s post-cold war world, India-China relations are of regional and global significance. As a result, both countries have an historic opportunity to work together towards a 21st century that is conducive to peace and development. In this regard, the Shared Vision of the 21st Century that the Chinese and Indian Prime Minister signed is an important milestone in the evolution of relations between the two hitherto suspicious neighbors. More importantly the Shared Vision is a forward looking document as it demonstrates the resolve to cooperate in the future. This is without doubt the most encouraging aspect for promoting mutual understanding and trust between the two countries. Trust level between Beijing and New Delhi has to be notched up to still greater level if at all the two are to benefit from the prospects and challenges laid out in the Shared Vision. 

Because past ties between New Delhi and Beijing has always been characterized by turns and twists along the way and although India’s faith in communist China has been shaken on numerous occasions—most notably the 1962 border war and open support for Pakistan—it is now important for the two Asian giants not to dwell too much on the past but look ahead as more responsible partners to shape the destiny of Asia and of the world. To the credit of both sides, in the recent past, differences have not been allowed to come in the way of broader cooperation in other areas. This mutual understanding must continue. In this regard, while differences will remain on the boundary issue, both countries should not be held hostage on this singular issue. There is an increasing area for cooperation that needs to be identified particularly in the area of trade and commerce, regional stability etc. However, for any purposeful relation to evolve and show confidence as mutual partners the two sides must continue to seek for settlement of the boundary question in a fair and mutually acceptable manner. 

As stated in the Shared Vision, China and India are the two largest developing nations representing more than one-third of humanity. And for promoting peace and development in Asia and the world as a whole calls for cordial Sino-Indian ties. As affirmed in the Shared Vision, the five principles of peaceful co-existence or Panchsheel as first enumerated in Nehru’s Foreign policy remains as relevant as it was sixty years ago and this should continue to constitute the basic guiding principles for good relations between the two—that of mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, mutual non-interference, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence.