India and China have to narrow down differences and build on convergences by exploiting the potential of Panchsheel, the five principles of peaceful co-existence propounded by the two countries along with Myanmar in 1954, Vice President Hamid Ansari said on Saturday.
"In our respective bilateral relations, our common interests far outweigh our differences," Ansari said while addressing a commemorative meeting of the 60th anniversary of the five principles in which Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Myanmar counterpart Thien Sein also took part.
"On the way forward, we have to build on our convergences and narrow down our differences. Panchsheel can help us exploit this potential for cooperation and come up with fresh, innovative initiatives to improve the lives of our people," Ansari said.
Panchsheel was enunciated by former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru along with his then Chinese counterpart Zhou Enlai. Myanmar subsequently endorsed it.
Ansari, who is on a five-day visit to China, said India, China and Myanmar are bound by age-old linkages and geography. "We may be at different stages of development but we can learn from each other's national experiences," he said.
"We need a new paradigm for global action. Our destinies are intertwined. Our quest is, should be, for a framework in which opportunities and challenges for the betterment of our societies co-exist," he said.
"In this endeavour, Panchsheel can act as a catalyst to help us better coordinate our efforts, enhance mutual understanding, share developmental experiences and tackle trans-national threats more effectively," he said.
In his address, Ansari said besides being ancient civilizations and neighbours, India and China are also strategic partners.
"Historically, there has been much that has bound us together, not merely through the exchange of goods and commodities but through a flourishing interchange of ideas, values and philosophies," he said.
"The imperatives of the 21st century propel us towards a better understanding of each other's objectives and more purposeful cooperation for mutual benefit. Greater interaction between the people of our two countries, in all fields, is a necessary condition for stronger overall bilateral relations," he said.
India-Myanmar relations, which are rooted in shared historical, ethnic, cultural and religious ties with geographical proximity has helped develop and sustain cordial relations and facilitated people-to-people contacts.
"A significant population of Indian origin resides in Myanmar. Our shared history and common interests paves the way for greater mutually beneficial cooperation," Ansari said.
About the relevance of Panchsheel, he said on the global level, it preserves the right of all nations to choose their own path while interacting with others on the basis of mutual respect and equality. "It facilitates the expression of views of all members of the international community, particularly the developing countries, so that their concerns are highlighted and interests are protected in the international economic, social and political order," he said.
Panchsheel provides the framework within which a just and equitable global order can be achieved to the satisfaction and benefit of all, he said.
Pursuit of world peace is a fundamental tenet of India's foreign policy, he said, adding that India draws inspiration from "our ancient civilisational value of considering the world as one family".
"This shapes and guides our actions in international relations," he said.
"Even before India became an independent nation, the leaders of our freedom struggle had outlined the fundamental precepts and values that embody the Five Principles of Peaceful Existence or Panchsheel.”
"The Constitution of India enjoins the State to endeavour to promote international peace and security and to maintain just and honourable relations between nations," he said.
"Panchsheel emanated from the civilisational matrix of Asia and is Asia's contribution towards building a just and democratic international order. Ancient ideals of Panchsheel, envisioned by our three countries, in the modern form are of continuing relevance in the changed world of today and will remain so in the world of tomorrow," he said.
Panchsheel came to be accepted almost universally by countries and finally by the United Nations in the conduct of international relations. "We gather here today to reaffirm the timeless relevance of Panchsheel in establishing a peaceful, stable, prosperous and secure world. As the co-originators of Panchsheel, it is our duty to revitalise our friendly relations and to promote co-operation as the only way forward towards the realisation of our common goals of progress and prosperity for our peoples," he added.
Image: Vice President Hamid Ansari and wife Salma Ansari visit the Great Wall of China. Photograph: PTI