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India extended official recognition to the Peoples Republic of China on December 30, 1949. India was the second among the non-socialist countries (after Burma) to recognise PRC. India and China established diplomatic relations on April 1, 1950. In 1954 India and China evolved the Panchsheel (Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence). In the same year Premier Zhou Enlai visited India in June and Prime Minister Nehru visited China in October. The circumstances leading to the war of 1962 led to a serious setback in bilateral relations. India and China restored ambassadorial relations in 1976.

In February 1979, the External Affairs Minister A.B. Vajpayee paid a visit to China, which marked the resumption of political level exchanges with China, thus defreezing the relationship. At his invitation, the Chinese Foreign Minister Huang Hua visited India in June 1981. Following this exchange of visits between the two Foreign Ministers, India and China agreed to Officials Level Talks on the boundary question and all other aspects of India-China relations. Eight rounds of Officials Level Talks were conducted between 1981 and 1987. The general trend since 1979 has been of steadily improving relations.

The visit of PM Rajiv Gandhi to China in December 1988 marked the resumption of political dialogue at the highest level. Both sides agreed to develop and expand bilateral relations in all fields, while continuing to address the outstanding differences. It was also agreed to establish a Joint Working Group (JWG) on the boundary question to seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution. Besides the JWG (on the border issue) and the Joint Economic Group (JEG) (on economic and commercial issues), it was agreed to encourage bilateral exchanges in science and technology, outer space, mining, audit, defence, personnel and culture.

Premier Li Peng visited India in December 1991. Prime Minister Narasimha Rao visited China in September 1993 during which the Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the India-China Border Area was signed and the India-China Expert Group of Diplomatic and Military Officers to assist the JWG was set up. This Agreement provides for both sides to respect the status quo on the border, clarify the LAC where there are doubts and undertake CBMs.

President R. Venkataraman paid a state visit to China in May 1992 and Vice President K.R. Narayanan in October 1994. From the Chinese side, CPPCC Chairman Li Ruihuan visited India in December 1993 and NPC Chairman Qiao Shi in November 1995. President Jiang Zeminís state visit to India in November 1996 was the first by a Chinese Head of State. During his visit, the two countries agreed to work towards a constructive and cooperative relationship while continuing to address outstanding differences. Four agreements were signed, of which the most important was one on Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) in the Military Field along the LAC in the India-China Border Areas. A prominent feature of the CBM Agreement is the adoption of concrete measures between the two militaries to enhance exchanges and promote cooperation and trust. The two countries agreed to exchange maps indicating their respective perceptions of the entire alignment of the LAC.

Bilateral relations suffered a setback after our nuclear tests in May 1998, but soon, in early 1999, both countries made efforts to resume official level dialogue, with both Foreign Ministries holding talks in February 1999. The then External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh visited China in June 1999. Both sides reiterated that neither country is a threat to the other. High-level exchanges were renewed with the visit of President K.R. Narayanan in May-June 2000. This was the second visit to China by an Indian Head of State in the last 50 years and marked a return to normalcy in bilateral relations.

Senior Chinese leader and Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National Peopleís Congress (NPC) Li Peng visited India in January 2001 at the joint invitation of Chairman, Rajya Sabha and Speaker, Lok Sabha. This was the highest level visit from China since the visit of President Jiang Zemin in 1996. During the visit, the formation of an India-China Parliamentary Friendship Group was announced.

By the time Premier Zhu Rongji visited India in January 2002, there was a new vigour in the bilateral relations, especially in the economic area. This was the first visit by a Chinese Premier in ten years, since Premier Li Peng came to India in December 1991. MOUs and agreements on cooperation in tourism, provision of hydrological data by China to India, peaceful uses of outer space, science & technology and phyto-sanitary measures were signed during the visit. The visit of then External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh to China in March-April 2002 led to further enhancement of mutual understanding and trust. He met Premier Zhu Rongji and a dialogue architecture instituting regular meetings at various levels was agreed to during the visit. Mr. Jia Qinglin, Chairman of National Committee of Chinese Peopleís Political Consultative Conference paid an official visit to India in November 2003.

Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee visited China in June 2003. A Joint Declaration on Principles for Relations and Comprehensive Cooperation and ten agreements were signed. The Joint Declaration provides a roadmap, based on shared perspectives between India and China, in an extensive Range of areas. The mechanism of Special Representatives was established to explore from the political perspective of the overall bilateral relationship the framework of a boundary settlement. India and China concluded a border trade protocol to add a border trade point between Sikkim and the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited India in April 2005. During the visit, the two Prime Ministers signed a Joint Statement which establishes a strategic cooperative partnership for peace and prosperity between the two countries. Eleven other agreements were signed. The agreement on political parameters and guiding principles for the India-China boundary question represents the successful conclusion of the first phase of the work of the Special Representatives and lays down the parameters and principles for their future discussions to explore the political settlement of the boundary question. A protocol on Confidence Building Measures was also concluded which further underpins the maintenance of peace and tranquility along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China border areas.

Apart from the high-level exchanges, the bilateral dialogue mechanisms provides greater depth to India-China bilateral relations and a systemic means of facilitating enhancement and implementation of existing initiatives and identifying newer ones. The various mechanisms evolved and instituted between India and China include Strategic Dialogue, Joint Working Group (JWG), Expert Group (EG) dealing with the boundary issues, meeting of Special Representatives (SR), Foreign Office Consultations, Security Dialogue, Policy Planning Dialogue, and the dialogue on Counter-Terrorism.
 

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