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Speech by Mr K.R. Former President of India at the International Seminar on the occasion of 50th anniversary of Panchsheel

2004/06/14

It is with great pleasure and a sensation of history that I rise to say a few words at this Seminar organized by the Chinese Peoples' Institute of Foreign Affairs to mark the 50th Anniversary of the promulgation of the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence. It was Premier Zhou En-lai who put forward the Five Principles, for the first time ,while opening the bilateral the Tibet region of China .Later when the formal negotiations started, Mr Chang Han Fu, the leader of the Chinese delegation, reiterated these Principles as guidelines for the solution of outstanding problem between the two countries. The leader of the Indian delegation welcomed the Five Principles saying that though India had not formulated these principles as the Chinese side had done, she had been following them as the basis of her foreign policy since she attained Independence, and suggested, at the concluding session of the talks, that the Five Principles should be incorporated in the preamble of the agreement of Trade and Intercourse between India and Tibet region. It was thus that the Five Principles or Panchsheel appeared in a document on international relations, for the first time, on April 29th 1954.

Prime Minister Nehru of India welcomed"Panchsheel"with open arms and stated in the Indian Parliament that it was an ancient phrase in India that the Lord Budhha used in the moral context. He added that the phrase was adopted by the Indonesian Government and that when he heard it in Indonesia it struck him as a happy phrase, which he thought, was of great importance to the world today. In China the idea of the Five Principles can be traced back to ancient times. The Great Chinese Philosopher Confucius spoke of harmony in the midst of the differences and outlined certain ethical principles of human conduct. Thus it might be said that the Five Principles arose from the civilizational matrix of Asia and, in its modern form, as stated in 1954 the Agreement between China and India, was a new and creative contribution to the theory and practice of International relations form the ancient continent of Asia .We are meeting today in Beijing where the ancient idea of Panchsheel was reborn in the modern form. It is, I believe, of continuing relevance to the vastly changed and changing world of today and tomorrow.

It is important to recall today the context in which the Five Principles were promulgated. After the victory of the Chinese Revolution, the first plenary session of the Chinese Peoples' Consultative Conference adopted a Common Programme that contained most of the core principles of Panchsheel on the basis of which new China proposed to conduct its relations with the nations of the world. The immediate context was that of regulating the relations between India and China proposed to conduct its relations with the nations of the world. The immediate context was that of regulating the relations between India and China. There was also the wider context of relations with countries of Asia, Europe and the world. The relationship between the new Asia and the old colonial powers of Europe and the West was, at the time, occupying the minds of world statesmen at the Geneva Conference on Indo-China. It was in June 1954 during the course of the Geneva Conference that Prime Minister Nehru invited Zhou En-lai to visit India. That visit turned out to be an important event at a critical moment in the history of Asia. I had the good fortune, as a young man ,to witness the tremendous mass reception that Zhou En-Lai received in India. Wherever the went there were hundreds and thousands of people greeting the Chinese Premier shouting the slogan "Hindi-China Bhai Bhai," Indians and Chinese are brothers". Extensive discussions took place between the two Prime Ministers as to how peace could be established in Asia, especially in South East Asia, and how the area of peace there, could be extended to the rest of the world. They came to the conclusion that it was not through military pacts and alliances that divided the nations in a bitter cold war, but through the Five Principles or Panchsheel recently signed between China and India that a system of collective security or collective peace, as Nehru preferred to call it, could be established in Asia. They visualized the conclusion of Panchsheel agreements of the type between India and China to be signed between China and Burma, then Burma and India, then China and Indonesia, and Indonesia and India, and so on between as many countries as possible in Asia and the rest of the world. It is amazing how the Panchsheel idea had caught the imagination of people in Asia and the world at a time when the great powers and the developed world were pursuing the cold war and a bitter ideological conflict in the world.

Rarely in the history of international relations, the principles of an agreement between two countries, in this case China and India, were accepted, almost universally, by countries and finally the United Nations Organisation itself. In a series of active and hectic international activities, Premier Zhou En-Lai and Prime Minister Nehru in separate and independent diplomatic moves, visited countries of Asia, Africa and Europe and signed with most of them agreements embodying the Five Principles. The Asian African conference held in Bandung accepted the Five Principles expatiating them into the Ten Principles of Bandung. The Conference of Non-aligned nations held in Belgrade accepted these Principles as the core principles behind the Non-aligned movement. In fact Panchsheel became the presiding principle of the Asian-African movement for equality and freedom against the prevailing colonial and imperialist domination of the world. The United Nations accepted the Five Principles as code of conduct in International relations, Mr Dag Hammarskjoeld describing Panchsheel as a reaffirmation of the obligations and the aims of the United Nations. On December 11, 1957, three countries, Yugoslavia, Sweden and India, moved a resolution in the United Nations of Peaceful co-existence containing the Five Principles, which was adopted unanimously by the world body.

Unfortunately today even after the end of the cold war, peace is eluding the world and forces of hegemonic domination are casting dark shadows over the world. In this new context, the Five Principles have become intensely relevant in the conduct of international relations. Indeed respect for the sovereignty and integrity of nations, non-interference in the internal affairs of nations and non-aggression and equality has become the pillar on which a just and peaceful world order can be erected. We hear now new doctrines of internationalism, the end of sovereignty and indeed of the State itself being advanced by political theorists of the developed countries of the world .And there is also the doctrine of a unipolar world in which one power or a group of powers with enormous economic and military power seeking to lord it over the rest of the world. China and India believe in a multi-polar world where power is diffused over several centers in a world of infinite diversities and differences in terms of culture, language, religions, economic conditions and political persuasions. Unipolar and interventionist theories and practices are unsustainable and opposed to a democratic and pluralistic world order. Recognizing, sovereignty, non-aggression and non-interference in internal affairs of States and equality and mutual benefits and peaceful co-existence constitute the irreducible minimum on which a viable world order is based. Globalisation should not become the world-wide manifestation of the highest and subtlest form of capitalism but as Mahatma Gandhi envisaged a federation of friendly, interdependent nations where no one dominates or exploits another. The appropriate code of conduct for a globalised world would be the Five Principles of peaceful co-existence and not the over-lordship of one super power or group of nations. The United Nations should be at the core of this world order. And intervention for the sake of human rights or democracy should be by the United Nations or by the express approval of the United Nations. For this purpose, we believe that the United Nations should be reformed and the UN Security Council expanded and made more representative of humanity, as a whole including representation on it of the great and populous and democratic developing countries of the world. I believe that China and India as the co-authors of the Five Principles could. I believe that China and India as the co-authors of the Five Principles could work together to bring about such a democratic transformation of the world body to serve the interests and the aspirations of mankind as a whole. In this context, I should like to quote what the great Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping said in December 1988:"In recent years there has been comment about the next century being the Asia Pacific century. I do not agree with this view point. Even if the Far Eastern region of the Soviet Union and the Western part of the United States and Canada are included, the population still comes to only about 300 million whereas the combined population of two countries (China and India) is 1.8 billion. If China and India fail to develop it cannot be called an Asian Century. Deng Xiaoping's words ring truer today, when the combined population of China and India is over two millions comprising 2/5th of humanity. Thanks to the economic reforms launched by Deng Xiaoping and vigorously pursued by successive leaders of China, China is today dazzling the world with its economic progress. India too has broken out its slow growth syndrome and has become a moving changing progressive economy. At this new stage of development, there is much that India and China can exchange with each other and co-operate with each other.

Along with other countries of the region developing fast that co-operation will usher in the true Asian Century that Deng Xiaoping had visualized. With China and India, the new century will be moving steadily towards the Asian destiny, not a destiny isolated from the rest of the world, but as part and parcel of the destiny of the world. President Jiang Zemin had said during his historic visit to India that China and India would establish a new constructive and co-operation relationship in the 21st century. I hold that in the new century co-operation between the two largest countries of Asia and the world is a historic necessity. As co-originators of the Panchsheel it is our Internationalist duty to march further forward and to revitalize our friendly relationship and project the Five Principles for the peace, progress and stability of the world. One of the major questions for the world today is that of defending the pluralistic world order where nations can evolve, grow and prosper according to their own genius. Jawaharlal Nehru had said in the 1950s" it should be open to each country to develop in its own way, learning from others and not imposed by them. Essentially this calls for a new mental approach. The Panchsheel and the Five Principles offer that approach." Today we have to generate that mental approach which Panchsheel put forth so refreshingly during the 1950s, the golden years of Sino-Indian relations. We have to work together to make the Five Principles, in the words of Premier Zhou En-Lai" shine over the whole world", for our mutual benefit, for peace, friendship and co-operation among nations.

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