China’s Five Principles

What President Xi mentioned is a bedrock of Chinese global diplomacy.

As every cloud has a silver lining, China’s five principles of peaceful coexistence is an unflickering hope for the world to recover from the menace of global disorder, war hysteria, zero-sum game, deglobalization, bloc politics, new cold war, and economic colonization.

Owing to its universal appeal, China-guided five principles of peaceful coexistence incorporated into the Chinese constitution is a one-size-fits-all approach that offers global insight into how developed countries and developing countries can live together with cohesion. They guide how the global north and global south can forge ahead side by side. They impart the knowledge of how lasting peace and robust growth on the international chessboard lie in shared community and global governance systems.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has inspired the world’s consciousness with his wake-up speech celebrating 70 year anniversary of five principles of coexistence and a vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind.

President Xi created positive ripples when said “Five principles have withstood the test of international vicissitudes, and have become more appealing rather than obsolete. Seventy years later today, challenged by the historic question of “what kind of world to build and how to build it,” China has answered the call of the times by proposing a community with a shared future for mankind. Today, this Chinese initiative has become an international consensus. The beautiful vision has been put into productive actions. It is moving the world to a bright future of peace, security, prosperity, and progress.”

According to my perspective, what President Xi mentioned is a bedrock of Chinese global diplomacy that sets the tone and direction on how to live and let live in everchanging geopolitical, geostrategic, and geoeconomic scenarios.

In terms of the rise of five principles on the international stage, five principles of coexistence took birth in 1955 with the endorsement of 29 countries in Asia and Africa that met in Bandung, Indonesia under the leadership of then-Chinese Premier Zhou. Seventy years later, Chinese President Xi Jinping put forth in such an inspirational way that aroused world acclamation.

The Non-Aligned Movement that came into being in the 1960s adopted the Five Principles as its guiding principles. The Declaration on Principles of International Law adopted at the 25th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 1970 and the Declaration on the Establishment of the New International Economic Order adopted at the Sixth Special UNGA Session in 1974 both subscribed the gist of five principles. With their foray into international documents, five principles transcended from the regional realm to global stardom.

Enjoying international appeal, robust resilience, and everlasting relevance, five principles are now conspicuously open, inclusive, and universally applicable to ensure basic norms for international relations and fundamental principles of international law.

Despite countries’ altogether different cultures, societal norms, political architecture, creed, race, language, governance system and economic needs, five principles stipulate an unequivocal and effective code of conduct for all to bolster the spirit of the international rule of law and finding the right way to get along with one another.

Five principles of peaceful coexistence also constitute underlying guidance for the establishment and development of relations in terms of state-of-state relations. Among countries’ diplomatic ties, they offer how to set aside disputes, narrow-mindedness, antagonistic aptitude, and confrontational mindsets such as bloc politics and sphere of influence.

Besides encouraging countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America to act as one force for multilateral interest and stand against hegemony powers, five principles shore up South-South cooperation and develop North-South relations as well.

In April 2022, China proposed the Global Security Initiative to create a new path to security featuring dialogue over confrontation, partnership over alliance, and win-win over zero-sum. Under its guidance, the country released papers on its position on resolving the Ukraine crisis and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, respectively, urging political settlement and diplomatic mediation.

The five principles were initiated with the purpose of protecting the interests and pursuits of small and weak countries from power politics. As the international order is being rebuilt based on South-South cooperation, the five principles are gaining ground and guiding solidarity and collaboration among Global South countries.

Under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), many participating countries have reinforced their capacity for development by cooperating with China in fields including transportation, agriculture, energy, and communication.

This is demonstrated by BRI landmark projects such as China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), China-Laos Railway which turned landlocked Laos into a land transport hub, Kenya’s Mombasa-Nairobi Railway which contributed two percent to the African nation’s economic growth, and Indonesia’s Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Railway, the first high-speed railway in Southeast Asia.

Yasir Habib Khan
The writer is the president of Institute of International Relations and Media Research (IIRMR). He tweets at @yaseerkhan.