The Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence

After contemplating a while what to write for Day one of 2011, I thought it worthwhile to simply remind everyone what the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence are.  They form the bedrock of Chinese foreign policy.  Chinese President Hu Jintao’s 2011 New Year’s address reaffirmed China’s adherence to them:

China will develop friendly cooperation with all other countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and continue to actively participate in international cooperation on global issues, Hu said.

The Western public are likely unfamiliar with what they are or their significance. These principles were formulated in June of 1954 between former Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai and his counterparts, Jawaharlal Nehru of India, and U Nu of Myanmar. The countries had just re-emerged from the end of WW2.  The colonial powers had finally (by in large) left their occupied territories. The victims wanted a fairer world.

Those five principles are:

  1. Mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity
  2. Mutual non-aggression
  3. Non-interference in each other’s internal affairs
  4. Equality and mutual benefit
  5. Peaceful coexistence

Less than a year later, and according to this Xinhua report:

In April 1955 — one year after China, India and Myanmar initiated the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence, a total of 29 newly independent nations from Asia and Africa held the historic “Asian-African Conference” in Bandung, Indonesia. As a result of the common efforts of the participants, the conference adopted the “Declaration on Promotion of World Peace and Cooperation” and formulated the 10 principles of the Bandung conference.

These 10 principles, which contained all points in the five principles of peaceful co-existence, represented an extension and development of the latter.

Since then, the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence have been recognized and accepted by more and more nations, international organizations and international meetings, and have been incorporated into a series of major international documents, including declarations adopted by the United Nations General Assembly.

At the 50th anniversary (June 2004) of the founding of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, Premier Wen Jiabao paid credence in a speech entitled, “Carrying Forward the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence in the Promotion of Peace and Development.” These principles were basis of China’s foreign policy:

It is on the basis of the Five Principles that China has established and developed diplomatic relations with 165 countries and carried out trade, economic, scientific, technological and cultural exchanges and cooperation with over 200 countries and regions. It is on the basis of the Five Principles that China has, through peace negotiations, resolved the boundary issues with most neighbors and maintained peace and stability in its surrounding areas. And it is on the basis of the Five Principles that China has provided economic and technical aid with no political strings attached to other countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, strengthening the friendship between China and these countries.

16 thoughts on “The Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence

  1. Some people might point out missing in these five principles are “freedom” and “democracy.”

    I would say them two are important ideas.

    However, in my view, the five principles take precedence, because if not, you get colonialism and invasions. The five principles implicitly speak for “freedom”, because they state in a practical matter the right to self determination. They implicitly speak for “democracy”, because the five principles allow the world to move forward advancing individual nations their own ways to govern.

    Some might ask what about the case when nation states overtly want to destroy their own people? It is a fair question. We have the U.N. to step into those situations. Those wishing to violate any of these five principles with guise of “freedom” or “democracy” are driven by the same impulse of colonialism.

  2. @YinYang #1,

    You wrote:

    Some people might point out missing in these five principles are “freedom” and “democracy.”

    I would say them two are important ideas.

    Well, I’m not so sure…

    The truly important ideas, you see, are not meant to be shared. Truly important ideas, from the perspective of the West, would be patented, copyrighted – such that if you try to use them without paying a handsome royalty, you will be accused of piracy.

    Democracy and freedom, however, is neither patented nor copyrighted nor trademarked nor kept a trade secret. In fact, you might argue it’s meant to be shared – it’s free for the taking – perhaps even mandatory: nations of the West (through NATO, for example) might sholve it down your throat if you don’t take it.

    Ergo, ergo freedom and democracy must not be that important. Its owners don’t even care to make it exclusive…
    :-)

    Happy New Year!

  3. yinyang :
    Some might ask what about the case when nation states overtly want to destroy their own people? It is a fair question. We have the U.N. to step into those situations. Those wishing to violate any of these five principles with guise of “freedom” or “democracy” are driven by the same impulse of colonialism.

    So, wait, you do want the UN to intervene in countries that overtly want to destroy their own people, such as, for example, the Rwandan genocide? Doesn’t that violate “Mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity” and “Non-interference in each other’s internal affairs”.

  4. @Allen

    Ha, indeed. But you get my point those ideas are not entirely useless. Not necessarily those ideas are byproducts of much intelligence. It’s like somebody putting a trade mark on the idea tha t people like to decide for themselves. I am trying to show some goodwill to those who had made them religions.

  5. @Otto

    In case you missed the point in my post about the General Assembly adopting these five principles of peaceful co-existence, there is a framework for respecting these and at the same time allow for atrocities like the Rwanda genocide to be averted.

    Since you’ve brought up Rwanda, I wonder who played a role in heightening conflict within that country. Who blocked U.N. intervention.

    Unilaterally or banding together as a group of thug nations outside the context of U.N. violating these principles is what we don’t want.

    I don’t get what point you are trying to make. Do you have a point?

  6. Sending troops into a country whose government is conducting policies you don’t like is the opposite of respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity or non-intervention in internal affairs.

    My point, which apparently you agree with, is that the five principles described are nice as general guidelines, but there are some exceptional situations in which they are not so important.

  7. Otto,

    The problem with your logic with genocide is that it does affect the sovereignty of the country, no? The 5 principles are geared towards sovereignty issues that are more politically motivated, like ‘internet’ freedom, yuan exchange rates, allowing Western countries into Chinese markets.

  8. “The Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence” does not imply peace will always prevail.

    Since the time “These principles were formulated in June of 1954 between former Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai and his counterparts, Jawaharlal Nehru of India, and U Nu of Myanmar.”,
    China has had border wars with India in 1962 and Vietnam in 1979 despite the established principles.

  9. You guys are too predisposed to view the world in black and white.

    Look at a marriage between a man and a woman. Despite them swearing to respect each other and love one another, there are days when they do get into fights. That does not make their wedding vows invalid.

    You could make an even stronger argument saying India is hosting the TGIE and therefore harboring separatist activities against China. Likewise, China propping up Pakistan lends an “impasse” to the Kashmir issue.

    It is obviously a balance. What makes situations exceptional is therefore a judgement within the framework of U.N..

  10. Wen Jiabao : “And it is on the basis of the Five Principles that China has provided economic and technical aid with no political strings attached …”
    I guess that is meant as a joke. If there is one country who uses economic and technical aid to get their political position strengthened, it is China. I don’t think I need to add examples for that.
    Allen, are you seriously saying that:
    “freedom and democracy must not be that important as they are neither patented nor copyrighted”?
    So anything, which you cannot measure with money is not important? I would appreciate if you correct me.

  11. @Josef

    “China. I don’t think I need to add examples for that”

    Oh yes you don’t

    a good friend of mine was once the in service the government of some africa country. They received some aid from some european countries, and he was set up as a person who is in charge of this. at the aid conference it was made explicit that the aid conditioned on him and others from the african country going through a series of workshops, basically some amatureish set up where they professed on democratic and human rights principles. now he was a top grad of a top school in the west. probablly holds more working experience than any of these yabos they put in charge of doughing out the pitful aid. what was aid going towards in the end? hold more seminars held by these professional do gooders with political backing in their country.

    Chinese, instead, he said, just came and did a business deal, and did everything they promised to do. on budget, on time, with tangible results.

    Free-dome and democrazy IS important. it is important that they do not get used like some street whores used by whom ever to push what ever convient agenda at the moment.

  12. @Josef #12,

    LOL … wonders of Internet.

    My comment is a sarcastic take on IP … My personal take is that the natural state of affairs of ideas is free. Ideas should be free – that is why we should have exchanges between civilizations. If you don’t get the take, drop it. It might a bad joke. In any case, it’s never worth my effort explain sarcasm.

  13. Ah, the sweet nectar of communism. It reads so well. Stalin was a grandfatherly chap too. And Mao was a saint. Read a little history folks, and see how these grand ideas were put into practice. It would make Hitler blush.

  14. Speaking of Hitler,

    Every US media and politician are busy admitting that their “democratic” colleagues in US are like the Nazis.

    Hitler would be frankly very proud of all of US knowing how well his ideals thrives in US.

    So many Nazis, Nazis everywhere in US, apparently. :)

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