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UPDATED: July 7, 2014 NO. 28 JULY 10, 2014
Five Principles Guide International Relations
By Lan Xinzhen

A commemoration marking the 60th anniversary of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence was held in Beijing on June 28. Representatives from China, Myanmar and India attended the event. The Five Principles include mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other's internal affairs, equality and mutual benefits, and peaceful coexistence. Chinese President Xi Jinping made a keynote speech, pledging to carry forward these principles and to push for a new era in international relations—one that builds toward a world with lasting peace and shared prosperity. The speech articulated Chinese leaders' hope for peaceful coexistence and the common development of countries around the globe.

However, at present, hegemony remains strong. Some countries meddle in others' domestic affairs, disturbing regional stability and even bringing about wars and disaster. Such behavior has served only to imperil world peace.

So how does the international community contain hegemony? The Five Principles might serve as a helpful model.

First, as a guide for dealing with international relations, these tenets have played an indispensable role in aiding state-to-state relations and solving international and regional disputes. They have had a profound influence on the maintenance of peace in Asia.

Second, the Five Principles—which oppose hegemony and power politics, and transcend social institutions and ideologies—have stood the test of time. They have gradually won recognition from the international community, evolving into the basic means of managing international relations and fostering peace and development.

Currently, as the world has entered a new phase of economic globalization, the significance of the Five Principles is on the rise. As President Xi said, resorting to arms is not a demonstration of strength but betrays a country's lack of morals and insight. The best way to solve an international dispute is through peace talks rather than skirmishes.

The Five Principles should serve as guidelines for China in building relations anew with the United States and forming friendly ties with countries around the South China Sea, counteracting any threat of hegemony in Asia. They should be exemplified, too, in constructing new types of anti-terrorism cooperatives with other countries.

Perhaps most importantly, China and the United States, both major influences in the international relations sphere, should work to build a more modern, innovative relationship that relies not on conflict or confrontation but mutual respect and win-win cooperation. A more collaborative relationship between the two permanent members of the UN Security Council could forge new ideas for development. The two countries should demonstrate more tolerance with one another and handle disputes through formal, diplomatic means before common interests outweigh their differences. It is thus important for both nations to express a wish for common and cooperation with the other.

The Five Principles are also particularly relevant to dealing with China's relations with countries around the South China Sea. China has declared sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and their surrounding waters. It respects the sovereignty and rights of other countries around the South China Sea, according to historical claims and relevant international seabed laws, and also respects each nation's rights and freedom to legally and peacefully use the sea's waters. Similarly, China's activity on certain reefs near the Nansha Islands is within its sovereignty and should therefore be respected. The most effective way to solve a territorial dispute in the South China Sea is by holding factual talks and rational negotiations between relevant countries, rather than starting confrontations.

As for China's international construction of a new brand of cooperative anti-terrorism relationships, such partnerships should be formed gradually on the basis of equal consultation, mutual respect, flexibility and effectiveness—tenets closely reflected in the Five Principles. Terrorism is not merely violence: It is indelibly intertwined with ethnicity, culture, traditional values and social conditions. It cannot be fought only with violence in return. Any anti-terrorism activity that violates the aim and principles of the UN Conventions on Terrorism and the Five Principles will fail to meet its target.

Email us at: lanxinzhen@bjreview.com

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