In October 1954, India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru set off on what was described as the “most important foreign mission of his life”: A trip to China.
It was also, as the New York Times noted, the first visit by a non-communist head of state since the creation of the People’s Republic of China.
“The six miles between city and airport were walled by unbroken banks of humanity, clapping, cheering and crying the inescapable Chinese slogan, ‘Long live peace’,” the newspaper reported.
Decades before their economic rise came to define the region and beyond, Nehru met chairman Mao Zedong, held talks with the first Chinese premier, Zhou EnLai, and visited Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing and Guangzhou (Canton). He was accompanied by his daughter, and later also prime minister of India, Indira Gandhi.
And although the visit seemingly cemented ties, building on the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence (pdf) agreed upon earlier that year, the two countries eventually were at war by 1962.
Now, as India’s current prime minister Narendra Modi makes a much-touted visit to China, here is what Nehru’s trip was like some 60 years ago.