Spirit of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence remains fully relevant
Published: Jun 29, 2024 10:38 AM
Chinese President Xi Jinping attends the Conference Marking the 70th Anniversary of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and delivers an important speech titled Carrying Forward the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and Jointly Building a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, June 28, 2024.(Photo: Xinhua)

Chinese President Xi Jinping attends the Conference Marking the 70th Anniversary of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and delivers an important speech titled "Carrying Forward the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and Jointly Building a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind" at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, June 28, 2024.(Photo: Xinhua)

The Conference Marking the 70th Anniversary of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence was held in Beijing on Friday. Addressing the conference, Chinese President Xi Jinping called on the international community to carry forward the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence under the new circumstances and jointly build a community with a shared future for humanity.

The 70th anniversary of the promulgation of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence is a big event for the international community. It is also of great importance for China under President Xi Jinping's leadership to carry forward the long-standing tradition of friendly cooperation among the citizens of all countries to promote world peace and development. The People's Republic of China does not agree with the theory that a strong country should seek hegemony. The Chinese people don't seek to oppress other peoples through militarism, so-called conditioning soft power, or humanitarian bombs that bring "freedom."

70 years ago, during the decolonization movement that emerged in the aftermath of the World War II, the cause of independence and national liberation flourished in Afro-Asian-American countries. Those new countries aspired to establish equal international relations with states that had previously dictated and imposed their laws on them in an imperial-colonialist manner. 

The newly independent countries followed the historical trend and jointly upheld the Five Principles of 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. .

As early as 1954, the People's Republic of China and some Asian countries issued joint declarations confirming that those Five Principles would be applied in their mutual relations and in their respective countries' relations with other countries in Asia and around the world. This is an important initiative in the history of international relations and a historic contribution to the creation of a new kind of just and reasonable international relations.

The Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence were developed in Asia because they inherit the ideological tradition of the Asian peoples who advocate peace. They have never tried to impose their ideas on other continents or on different levels of political and economic thinking, unlike what happened in Europe. For centuries, Europe considered itself the source of truth at every level, from the social to the religious.

The Chinese nation has always supported harmonious concepts that emphasize the importance of diversity and reject violence as a means of imposing them. Asian countries have long valued principles such as benevolence, charity and peace. The renowned Indian poet Tagore once wrote, "Do you think you can achieve friendship through war? Spring will slip away before your eyes." 

China has consistently advocated for the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, which align closely with the aims and objectives of the UN Charter and provide a tangible framework for promoting peace and cooperation on a global scale. They not only reflect the aspirations of Asian countries for international relations, but also embody the spirit of international law that should guide the rights, obligations and responsibilities of all nations. Through the Five Principles, China and some other Asian countries were able to resolve longstanding disputes in the 1950s. Since the late 1960s, these principles have become deeply ingrained in Asia and have gained recognition worldwide.

It is indisputable that the Five Principles - as open and inclusive principles in international law - have withstood the test of the vicissitudes of the world situation and embody the values of sovereignty, justice, the rule of law and democracy. The Five Principles are indeed becoming the fundamental rules of international relations. They scientifically frame the essential characteristics of the new type of foreign affairs and are an interconnected, mutually reinforcing unit that is indivisible. These principles are applicable to relations between countries of various social systems, levels of development and sizes.

Indeed, the Five Principles safeguard the rights and interests of developing countries. The essence of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence is that all countries have equal sovereignty and oppose any country's monopoly on international affairs. This provides a powerful ideological weapon for developing countries to defend their national sovereignty and independence. They become a banner for these countries to unite, cooperate and strengthen each other through militant solidarity, which deepens mutual understanding and trust, promotes South-South cooperation, and develops and increases North-South cooperation. The main aim of the Five Principles is currently their contribution to the establishment of a more just and reasonable international political and economic order. The Five Principles reject the law of the jungle in which the strong can prey on the weak. It has been a clear anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist sign since the independences of the 1960s that accelerated the collapse of the formal colonial system. In the context of the Cold War, "spheres of influence" and other methods failed to adequately manage relations between countries, leading to peripheral regional conflicts over expanding interference. In stark contrast, the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence opened a new path for the peaceful resolution of long-standing issues and international disputes between countries.

Today's world is undergoing profound and complex changes. The trend of times of peace, development, cooperation and win-win situations is increasingly becoming a community of destiny where "we are among you and you are among us." At the same time, injustice and inequality in international relations are still evident, global challenges are emerging one after the other, and various regional conflicts and local wars are taking place in many countries without the screen of ideologies, but with a clear attempt to seize resource-rich territories. People, especially children, in some countries, still live in the fires of war. People still suffer from hunger and cold. There is still a long way to go to maintain world peace and promote common development.

In this situation, the spirit of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence is not obsolete, but remains fully relevant. The meaning of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence is not watered down, but becomes deeper; it is not weakened, but strengthened over time.

Sovereignty is the fundamental symbol of national independence and the basic manifestation and reliable guarantee of national interests. Sovereignty and territorial integrity cannot be violated, and countries should respect each other's fundamental interests and main concerns. These are hard truths that cannot be evaded at any time and we should never waver before them. 

President Xi Jinping states that countries, big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, are all equal members of the international community and have equal rights to participate in international affairs. The affairs of each country should be managed by the people of that country. We must respect the social systems and development paths chosen independently by each country and oppose the use of illegal means to subvert the legitimate political power of other countries for selfish interests or opinions.

Furthermore, security should be universal. All countries have the right to participate in international and regional security affairs on an equal footing, and a responsibility to maintain international and regional security.

The concept of common, global, cooperative and sustainable security must be upheld and the security of each country must be respected and protected. A country cannot be safe while other countries are not. Therefore, we need to strengthen international and regional cooperation to jointly respond to the growing number of non-traditional security threats, resolutely combat all forms of terrorism and eradicate the breeding ground for it.

When dealing with differences and disputes between countries, we must insist on resolving them peacefully through dialogue and consultation, increasing mutual trust through dialogue, and not resorting to, or threatening, the use of force. The willingness to use force is a sign of moral poverty. Only security based on ethics can have a solid foundation and be long-lasting. We need to promote the construction of a new architecture for Asia-Pacific security cooperation that is open, transparent and fair, and encourage all countries to jointly safeguard regional and global peace and security. 

The author is an Italian expert on international affairs and Honorary Professor at Peking University. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn