After several days of extensive talks between the Prime Minister of India (Jawaharlal Nehru) and the Premier of the State Council of China (Zhou Enlai), the latter held a press conference on April 15, 1960 at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Before the beginning of the press conference, Zhou Enlai read the following statement.
To change an ambassador the day before a Head of a State arrives in a country, is really a first in diplomatic annals. What is behind this sudden move?
Sixty four years later, very little seems to have changed in the Sino-Indian relations.
I presume that President Xi Jinping could read a very similar statement on Friday evening before leaving for Beijing.
The scoop of the present visit of Presidnet Xi Jinping is the sudden transfer of the Chinese Ambassador to India (Mr. Wei Wei). A day before the arrival of his supreme boss, he has been replaced by Le Yucheng, earlier posted as Assistant Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Le Yucheng also served as Director-General of the Policy Planning Department for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Minister to the Embassy of PRC in the Russian Federation, and Counselor to Permanent Mission of the PRC to the United Nations.
To change an ambassador the day before a Head of a State arrives in a country, is really a first in diplomatic annals.
What is behind this sudden move?
Premier Chou En-lai’s written statement
At the invitation of Prime Minister Nehru, I have paid a friendly visit in India from April 19 to 25, 1960. I am pleased to have this opportunity to visit once again the great Republic of India and extend greetings to the great Indian people. During the visit, we have been accorded a cordial welcome and hospitality by the Indian Government and Prime Minister Nehru. For this, Vice-Premier Chen Yi and I, as well as my other colleagues, wish to express our hearty thanks.
The Chinese and Indian peoples are two great nations of Asia. From the remote past, there have always existed between the two peoples mutual friendship and mutual sympathy, but never mutual antagonism or aggression against each other. Since our two countries successively achieved independence, particularly since we jointly initiated the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, the profound friendship between the two peoples has undergone further development on a new basis. There is no basic conflict of interests between our two countries. Our two countries have every reason to remain friendly to each other for thousands and tens of thousands of years to come. During the past one year or two, although disputes have arisen between the two countries on the boundary question left over by history, our two peoples have nonetheless consistently cherished the desire to be friendly to each other. We are convinced that it is entirely possible to achieve, through peaceful consultations, a fair and reasonable settlement of the boundary question between the two countries. It is precisely with this conviction that we have come here.
“A settlement of the boundary question between the two countries should take into account the national feelings of the two peoples towards the Himalayas and the Karakoram Mountains.”
During the visit, Prime Minister Nehru and I have held many long discussions on matters of common interest, particularly the Sino-Indian boundary question. Our two sides expounded our respective stands and viewpoints on the boundary question as well as our respective propositions for a settlement of this question. I am of the opinion that such discussions are conducive to the enhancing of mutual understanding. Vice-Premier Chen Yi, Vice-Minister Chang Han-fu and. I have also met and held frank discussions separately with a number of cabinet ministers of the Indian Government. After seven days of talks, although, unlike what we expected, no agreement has been reached for the settlement of the boundary question, the two sides have unanimously agreed that the officers of the two sides should meet and examine, check and study the factual material relevant to the boundary question and submit report to the Governments of the two countries. Both sides have also agreed that while the officials of the two countries are holding meetings, all efforts should be made to avoid friction and clashes in the border areas. These agreements have been set forth in the Joint Communique of the two Prime Ministers. We hold that these agreements have a bearing on the maintenance of tranquility on the border and on the continued search for avenues to a reasonable settlement of the boundary question.
Through a frank exchange of views between us two Prime Ministers, I have found that the two sides not only share the common desire to maintain friendly relations between the two countries, but that, on the boundary question, too, it is not impossible for the two sides to find common points or points of proximity, which, in my view, can be broadly summarized into the following six points:
- There exist disputes with regard to the boundary between the two sides,
- There exists between the two countries a line of actual control up to which each side exercises administrative jurisdiction.
- In determining the boundary between the two countries, certain geographical principles, such as watersheds, river valleys and mountain passes, should be equally applicable to all sectors of the boundary.
- A settlement of the boundary question between the two countries should take into account the national feelings of the two peoples towards the Himalayas and the Karakoram Mountains.
- Pending a settlement of the boundary question between the two countries through discussions, both sides should keep to the line of actual control and should not put forward territorial claims as pre-conditions, but individual adjustments may be made.
- In order to ensure tranquility on the border so as to facilitate the discussions, both sides should continue to refrain from patrolling along all sectors of the boundary.
Yhere is now still a certain distance between us and the Indian Government with regard to the above six points.
“This friendship should not be, nor can it be jeopardized because of the temporary lack of a settlement of the Sino-Indian boundary question.”
However, I am of the opinion that as long as both sides continue consultations, it will not be difficult to narrow down and eliminate this distance. Once these common points are found, the two sides undoubtedly will have taken a big stride forward towards the reasonable settlement of the Sino-Indian boundary question.
The Chinese Government has consistently maintained that since the Sino-Indian boundary has never been formally delimited, both the Chinese and Indian sides should seek a reasonable settlement of the boundary question between the two countries through peaceful and friendly consultations, taking into consideration the historical background and the present actualities, acting on the Five Principles jointly initiated by the two countries and adopting an attitude of mutual understanding and mutual accommodation. Pending this, both sides should maintain the present state of the boundary and not change it by unilateral action, let alone by force. Regarding some of the disputes, provisional agreements can be reached through negotiations. The Chinese Government holds that Sino-Indian friendship is of extremely great significance both to the 1,000 million people of the two countries and to Asian and world peace. This friendship should not be, nor can it be jeopardized because of the temporary lack of a settlement of the Sino-Indian boundary question.
Tomorrow, we shall bid farewell to the state leaders of India and the great Indian People. On the eve of departure, I would like to state once again that the Chinese Government has unshakable confidence in a settlement of the Sino-Indian boundary question and the strengthening of the friendship between the two countries, and that it will exert unremitting efforts to this end.
In order to provide the Prime Ministers of the two countries with another opportunity for talks, in order to promote friendly relations between the two countries and reciprocate Prime Minister Nehru’s kind hospitality, have invited Prime Minister Nehru to visit China at a time convenient to him.