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UPDATED: 11:27, June 28, 2004
The Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence

-- fundamental and everlasting norms guiding international relations

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Editor's Note: we devote this special report to the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. First set forth in 1954, the Five Principles weathered in half a century thereafter the vicissitudes of the international situation and were gradually and universally accepted by the international community as the fundamental norms guiding international relations"

What are the Five Principles? And how they came into being?

Premier Zhou Enlai speaks at the Afro-Asian Bandung Conference held in Indonesia, April, 1955. During the meeting, Premier Zhou advocated the principle of "seeking common ground while shelving differences" and suggested setting the Five Principles as a base for establishing friendly, cooperative relations between countries of different social systems.

The Five Principles are: mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other's internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence.

They were first set forth by Premier Zhou Enlai in his talk to the Indian delegation at the start of the negotiations that took place in Beijing from December 1953 to April 1954 between representatives of the Chinese and Indian governments on relations between the two countries in Tibet.

Later, the Five Principles were formally written into the preface to the "Agreement Between the People's Republic of China and the Republic of India on Trade and Intercourse Between the Tibet Region of China and India".

Since June 1954, when the Five Principles were included in the joint communique issued by Premier Zhou Enlai and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, they have been adopted in many other international documents and have become widely accepted as norms for relations between countries.

Five Principles universally accepted, and why

Premier Zhou Enlai advocated the Five Principles as basic norms in handling international relations during his India visit in June, 1954.

Over the past 50 years, in the sprit of the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence, China settled border problems left over by history with Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Mongolia and solved the problem of double-nationality of Indonesian-Chinese with Indonesia, thus setting up an image of peace in Asia and becoming an example for strengthening regional stability and consolidating unity of Asian countries. Statistics show that by 1976, the year in which Premier Zhou Enlai passed away, there had been more than 90 countries who recognized the Five Principles in the form of government documents jointly issued with China, and, on this basis, more than 100 countries established diplomatic relations with China. While India also solved successfully its border disputes with Myanmar and Nepal according to the Five Principles.

Meanwhile, the Five Principles also crossed ideological gap and broke the barrier between western, oriental cultures by winning recognition from western countries. In 1956, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, France and Belgium introduced the Five Principles into related documents; after the 1970s, Japan, Britain, Holland, W.Germany, Australia and the United States accepted the Five Principles one after another and wrote them into friendship agreements or joint communiques signed with China. During half a century, the Five Principles have been included into more than 160 international documents. Just as former Indian President Kocheril Raman Narayanan put it, the fact that a principle agreement signed between two countries got accepted by most world countries is very rare in the history of international relations.

"The Five Principles included basic norms in international relations, and summarized the purposes and principles of the UN Charter in a succinct way, that's why they can be widely recognized." -- David Abel

Why the Five Principles are so widely accepted by the international community? David Abel, former minister of Myanmar cabinet, gave his explanation in an interview. He believes that the Five Principles proposed by China included basic norms in international relations, and summarized the purposes and principles of the UN Charter in a succinct way, that's why they can be widely recognized.

The Five Principles stand for non-aggression, non-interference and peaceful co-existence, thus providing a practical way in solving border disputes and handling relations between big and small countries.

The Five Principles also lay stress on equality and recognition of the diversity of the world by advocating the norms of "seeking common ground while reserving differences" and "do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire", which demonstrate the democratic sprit in modern international relations and needs of the vast developing countries and therefore are in the fundamental interests of world people.

Former Australian Prime Minister Robert James Lee Hawke once emphasized that the notion of "mutual benefit" put forward in the Five Principles serves as a base for creating a safer world, which called for a sprit of cooperation, and it is where the vitality of the Five Principles lies.

Five Principles far from being outdated

"I think a new international order can be built on the basis of the five principles, because these principles recognize dignity and sovereignty of other countries. For any peaceful world order, this is the first requisite that you must recognize the sovereignty of each other and respect others' territories"--Narayanan

The five principles are far from outdated even though the world has changed a lot over the past 50 years. "I think a new international order can be built on the basis of the five principles, because these principles recognize dignity and sovereignty of other countries. For any peaceful world order, this is the first requisite that you must recognize the sovereignty of each other and respect others' territories, " said K.R. Narayanan, Indian former President.

The world is a very diversified and therefore there are immense difference and diversities in the world. That is one of the charms of living in this world. "Therefore, you must be able to understand and respect the difference of other countries and don't try to change them. This is respecting and not interfering in each other's relations."

Narayanan said, "India believes that India and China could make key inputs to peace and growth in the Asian region as well as the world if the two nations further expand their economies, continue pleasant relations, learn from each other and impart reciprocal cooperation to each other based on the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence."

Talking about the challenges to the Five Principles, Narayanan said if there is any challenge to the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, it is a challenge posed by the most advanced powerful countries of the world, "because they are powerful and have military might and therefore they feel that they should have some extra authority on the world." >>>

New dimensions called

At an international seminar on the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, former Chinese Vice-Premier Qian Qichen said the Five Principles have also kept pace with the times, and under the new situation, it is necessary to add new dimensions to them according to the characteristics of the times.

In recent years, there have been new developments in the international arena both in theory and in practice on the question of establishing a new international order under the new situation.

People have come to the same conclusion through practice and deliberation that in today's diversified world, the Five Principles still have wide application as the fundamental theory guiding international relations.

As to how to add new dimensions to and develop the Five Principles, Qian suggested that the sense of equality should become the bedrock of democracy and legality of international relations, the new security concept of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and coordination should be fostered, the diversity of the world should be respected, multilateralism should be actively promoted and the human society should seek sustainable development.>>>

By People's Daily Online

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