Tell it to SunStar: We value peace and independence

SunStar Tell it
SunStar Tell it

By Zhang Zhen

Consul general of the People’s Republic of China in Cebu

This year is of special significance. It marks the 70th anniversary of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence.

Seven decades ago, Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai put forth in full the five principles for the first time -- “mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, mutual non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence.”

In the past 70 years, the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence have been widely accepted and recognized by countries across the world. They give concrete expression to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and facilitate their implementation. They have become important norms governing contemporary international relations.

China unswervingly pursues an independent foreign policy of peace, and has faithfully practiced the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. China has never provoked a war or occupied an inch of foreign land. China is the only country around the world that includes in its Constitution a commitment to the path of peaceful development. China is the only country among the major nuclear-weapon states that is committed to the no-first-use of nuclear weapons.

China is ready to work with its neighbors to carry forward the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, practice the concepts of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness, deepen the integration of interests, and jointly build an Asian homeland of peace, tranquility, prosperity, beauty, and friendly coexistence.

Neighboring countries are China’s priority in its diplomacy. The month of April has witnessed a host of high-level visits from Southeast Asian countries to China. Leaders and foreign ministers from several Southeast Asian countries visited China, which demonstrates the great importance relevant countries attach to their relations with China.

China has engaged in friendly cooperation, enhanced mutual understanding and trust, and pursued common development and prosperity with neighboring countries in line with the principles of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit, and inclusiveness guiding our neighborhood diplomacy as put forward by President Xi Jinping.

Last year, China and Asean were each other’s largest trading partners for the fourth consecutive year. In January and February this year, trade between China and Asean totaled RMB993.2 billion, up by 8.1 percent.

Southeast Asian countries are important partners for Belt and Road cooperation. A large number of cooperation projects, including the China-Laos Railway, the Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Railway and the “Two Countries, Twin Parks” between China and Malaysia, have boosted economic growth and benefited the people in the region.

Mutual visa exemption is realized between China and the three Southeast Asian countries of Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. Various events are being or to be held during 2024, the China-Asean Year of People-to-People Exchanges, to enhance mutual understanding and build closer bond between the peoples of the two sides.

China has had “harmony culture” since ancient times. “To be benevolent and friendly towards neighboring countries” was first mentioned in Zuo’s Commentary on the Spring and Autumn Annals. The ancient Chinese used this notion as an important guiding principle in handling relations with neighboring countries: Countries should respect and be friendly to each other, and jointly foster a benign and stable environment.

China opened up the Silk Road over 2000 years ago, promoting the integrated development of countries and regions along the route. More than 600 years ago, in the Ming Dynasty, the navigator Zheng He led the world’s most powerful fleet, sailing south to the Pacific and Indian Oceans multiple times, which covered more than 30 countries and regions in Asia and Africa. Not only did he never occupy an inch of land, but he also sowed the seeds of peace and friendship along the route. In modern times, the Chinese people suffered immensely from western aggressions, so Chinese now feel all the more strongly about the value of independence, freedom, and peace.

The Independence Day of the Philippines, June 12, is coming. Both the Chinese and the Filipinos value peace and independence. Forty nine years ago, on June 9, 1975, China and the Philippines established diplomatic relations. Now we are standing at another historical point. Let us join hands on the journey towards progress for the benefit of our two peoples, as well as for the region and the world at large!

Confucius observed that “a man of true moral integrity is one who is both friendly but independent, who does not compromise his principles, and who is independent without any bias or taking sides. How unflinchingly firm he is in his strength!”

Happy Independence Day!

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