Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence

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

Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence (和平共处五项原则) are China’s fundamental and everlasting norms guiding international relations.

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.


Historical Context

Shortly after the birth of the People’s Republic of China, Chairman Mao Zedong stated on many occasions that China was ready to establish diplomatic relations with all countries which are willing to observe the principles of equality, mutual benefit and mutual respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty. This principle was expounded in the common Programme adopted by the First Session of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference on September 29, 1949 as well as the Announcement of the Central Government of the People's Republic of China made by Chairman Mao Zedong at the proclamation Ceremony Marking the Founding of the People's Republic of China. It embodied the major content of the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-Existence.

India and Burma are neighbors of China. Their social systems are not only different from that of China, but there are also issues between them left over from history pending solutions.

During the period of the British colonial rule, India was used as a base by the British to extend its influence into China's Tibet. Britain acquired a series of special privileges in Tibet through various types of unequal treaties forced upon the Qing Government. After China and India established diplomatic relations in 1950, India still hoped to maintain the privileges Britain once enjoyed in Tibet in a bid to keep its special status and influence in that area.

The Chinese government insisted that all the privileges inherited by India in Tibet should be revoked. However, the usual practices which did not compromise China's sovereignty and which accorded with the practical needs of Tibet may be kept where appropriate. In a spirit of good neighborliness and guided by the policy of peaceful co-existence, China agreed to negotiations between China and India on their relations in the Tibet Region which were held in Beijing from December 31, 1953 to April 29, 1954.

Premier Zhou Enlai met with members of the Indian Government Delegation on December 31, 1953 where he put forward for the first time the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-Existence, namely, mutual respect for each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty (changed to mutual respect for each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity at the Asian-African Conference), mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other's internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit (changed to equality and mutual benefit in the Sino-Indian joint Statement and Sino-Burmese Joint Statement), and peaceful co-existence.

In response, the Indian side agreed that the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-Existence advanced by Premier Zhou be taken as the guiding principles for the negotiations. This was incorporated into the "Agreement Between the People's Republic of China and the Republic of India on Trade and Intercourse Between Tibet Region of China and India". In its Preamble, the Agreement laid down the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-Existence as the norms guiding the relations between the two countries. For the first time, the Five Principles of peaceful Co-Existence was affirmed in its entirety as principles guiding international relations.

Premier Zhou Enlai is warmly welcomed by the people from all walks of life when attending the first Asian-African Conference in Bandung, Indonesia, in 1955.

In June 1954, Premier Zhou Enlai visited India and Burma. The joint Statement of the Prime Ministers of China and India issued on 28 June and the Joint Statement of the Prime Ministers of China and Burma issued on 29 June both affirmed that the Five Principles of Peaceful Existence as guiding principles in their bilateral relations and the Five Principles were formally proposed as the norms governing international relations.

The Asian-African Conference convened in Bandung, Indonesia in 1955 adopted Ten Principles for conducting international relations. This is a continuation and development of the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-Existence. After the Polish and Hungarian Incidents in October 1956, the Chinese government pointed out in its statement of November 1 that the mutual relations of the socialist countries should all the more be based on the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-Existence. The Five Principles of Peaceful Co-Existence are diametrically opposed to power politics which have been in dominance in international relations over the last few centuries.

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