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Following the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and Jointly Building a Community of Common Destiny

2014/05/28

--Speech at the International ColloquiumCommemorating the 60th Anniversary of

the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence

H.E. Mr. LIU Zhenmin,

Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs,

the People's Republic of China

(Kerry Center, Beijing, May 27, 2014)

Honorable Legal Counsel of the United Nations,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good Morning. First please allow me, on behalf of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to extend my warm welcome to all of you.

Today, we gather here in Beijing to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. An international law colloquium specially dedicated to the Five Principles is the first of its kind as far as I can remember. In that sense I believe this event is of special and far-reaching significance.

Sixty years ago, drawing on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, China, India and Myanmar jointly initiated the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. The Five Principles were a direct response to developing countries' appeal against imperialism, colonialism and hegemonism, and reflected the aspirations of those countries for independence, autonomy, self-improvement and development. The Five Principles also pioneered a cooperative path for exchanges between countries with different ideologies and social systems. Besides, these Five Principles enriched and developed the fundamental principles of international law centered on the UN Charter, testifying to developing countries' firm adherence to the fundamental principles of international law. Epitomizing oriental wisdom,the Five Principles were intended not only for Asia, but also for the world at large, and were a true trailblazer in the history of international law and international relations.

During the past six decades, the Five Principles have served as the cornerstone of China's independent foreign policy of peace. They have been written into the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, and incorporated into the communiqués on the establishment of diplomatic relations or bilateral treaties that China signed with over 160 countries. Internationally, they have received wide recognition and compliance as part of the basic norms governing international relations. The Five Principles found expressions in the Ten Principles of Bandung enunciated in the Final Communiqué of the 1955 Asian-African Conference of Bandung, and the 1974 UN Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States. Their broad application to inter-state relations also provided evidence of a general practice of fundamental principles accepted as law among states as contained in the 1970 UN Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. It is undeniable that these Principles have promoted the healthy and stable development of international relations, helped achieve international justice, and contributed to world peace and human progress.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Sixty years later, the world is undergoing tremendous and profound changes. States have never been so closely linked and interdependent as today. People across the world have increasingly realized that they live in a community of common destiny. Peace, development and cooperation have become the aspirations of people from all countries and the common pursuit of the international community.

During the past six decades, the tenets of the Five Principles, as a set of principles of international law that is open and inclusive, have been constantly enriched by evolving notions from peaceful coexistence to peaceful development, to harmonious world, and to today's win-win cooperation and community of common destiny. With its strong vitality and universal applicability, these Principles will continue to contribute significantly to world peace and development. Today, as part of our efforts to carry forward these Principles, we should uphold four core values enshrined in the Five Principles:

Firstly, the concept of sovereignty, which forms the foundation of the Five Principles. The principle of sovereignty is about mutual respect for sovereignty, security and core interests, respect for the inherent right of a country to maintain its unity and territorial integrity, mutual respect for social system, ideology and path of development, and seeking common ground while reconciling differences. The domestic affairs of a country should be determined by its people, whereas international affairs should be handled through consultation by people of all countries in a democratic manner. Individual and collective human rights must be respected, protected and promoted, and the right to development be defended in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and other international treaties. No country shall interfere in the domestic affairs of other countries. The world is indeed undergoing enormous changes and there is a growing convergence of international common interests. But this should not be used as an excuse for wilfully interfering in the domestic affairs of other countries, or offer ground for acts aimed to incite civil strife, instigate separation, or overthrow a government. Otherwise the world will be in chaos, and the common interest of the international community is merely empty talk.

Secondly, the concept of peace, which represents the supreme value of the Five Principles. To maintain peace, countries must refrain from invasion and oppose war, aggression, threat or use of force. They must uphold the system of collective security where the Security Council plays the central role, and constantly improve the rules-based regional security and stability architecture. To maintain peace, countries must settle international disputes peacefully, properly resolve issues left over from history, and respect each other's right to choose peaceful means for dispute settlement. They must uphold the spirit of international law based on consent and voluntariness, refrain from unilateral actions, and commit themselves to settling disputes through negotiations and consultations.

Thirdly, the concept of win-win progress, which is the ultimate objective of the Five Principles. To achieve win-win progress,countries need to engage in mutually beneficial international cooperation on the basis of equality. They must promote the establishment of a community of common destiny, in which development is achieved and shared by all. Countries should promote economic cooperation on the basis of mutual benefit, and boost common development through their own development, which in turn can be safeguarded by common development. Countries must discard the thinking of clash of civilizations, and promote exchanges between different cultures such as those of tea and coffee. It is important to advance the coordinated and sustainable development of the economy, society and environment, promote the long-lasting well-being of mankind and the common interests of the international community.

Fourthly, the concept of justice, which is the intrinsic requirement of the Five Principles. The inclusion of the word "mutual" or the prefix "co-" in the Five Principles reflects the unity of rights, obligations and responsibilities. Countries should engage in international relations in accordance with international law. No country shall place itself above international law, apply international law selectively, or adopt double standards in the application of international law. To uphold justice is to advocate the international rule of law, promote democracy in international relations, maintain international peace and security through legal means, promote cooperation and development, and establish a law-based international order.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The international rule of law is the common pursuit of mankind and an important priority of the international community. Adherence to the core values of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence will provide us with valuable guidance for the establishment of international rule of law.

Firstly, as regards international legislation, countries should participate in international law-making on an equal footing, to reflect rights, obligations and responsibilities of all countries in a comprehensive, balanced and fair manner, and accommodate the interests of individual countries and the common interests of the international community. The existing legal framework should be further improved and new areas be explored. In particular, international legislation regulating our activities in new domains such as high sea, outer space, cyberspace and polar areas need to be enhanced.

Secondly, as regards interpretation and application of international law, countries must strictly abide by treaties, common practices, and other rules of international law. They should exercise their rights within the legal bounds and fulfil their obligations and responsibilities in good faith. They are also obliged to ensure the equitable and coherent application of international law. Neither domestic nor international judicial bodies shall ultra vires interpret or apply international law, still less deliberately misinterpret the relevant rules. In one word, the interpretation and application of international law should contribute to international peace, stability and justice.

Thirdly, as regards international order, countries should strive for the establishment of a fair and equitable new international political and economic order, and ensure that developing countries are fully represented and their voices equally heard. Countries should continue to uphold the central role of the United Nations in maintaining international peace and security, securing economic and social stability and development and enhancing global governance. To sum up, the notions such as peace, cooperation and win-win progress should be championed with a view to forging a new type of international relations and achieving the common development of mankind and lasting peace of the world.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

China is a responsible country. We will, as always, uphold the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, practice the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, and stick to the path of peaceful development. China will present itself as a firm defender for state sovereignty, a staunch upholder for international peace and security, an energetic promoter for economic and social cooperation and development, and an active builder for international order and rule of law.

Thanks for your attention.

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