Commentary | The millenary tradition of Xi Jinping’s thinking and the China-EU disputes

Commentary | The millenary tradition of Xi Jinping’s thinking and the China-EU disputes

Yoan Valat/Pool via REUTERS

The 70th anniversary of the promulgation of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence is a big event for the international community. It is also of great importance for President Xi Jinping to carry forward China's millenary tradition of friendly cooperation among the citizens of all countries to promote world peace and development. The People’s Republic of China does not agree with the theory that a strong country should seek hegemony. The Chinese people have not in their blood the gene to oppress other peoples through militarism or so-called conditioning soft power, or through humanitarian bombs that bring ‘freedom’.

Seventy years ago, during the decolonization movement that emerged in the aftermath of the Second World War, the cause of independence and national liberation flourished in the Afro-Asian-American countries, and those new countries aspired to establish equal international relations with those States that until then had dictated and imposed their laws in an imperial-colonialist manner. 


The newly independent countries followed that historical trend and jointly upheld the Five Chinese Principles of mutual respect, sovereignty, territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, and non-interference in internal affairs, based on equality and the mutual benefit of peaceful coexistence.

As early as 1954, the People's Republic of China and some Asian countries issued joint declarations confirming that those Five Principles would be applied in their mutual relations and in their respective countries' relations with other countries in Asia and around the world. This is an important initiative in the history of international relations and a historic contribution to the creation of a new kind of just and reasonable international relations.

Looking back, President Xi Jinping not only expresses deep gratitude to the first leadership generation of People's China, but also develops and reaffirms that these Five Principles are a form of respect and solidarity with the forward-looking people in various countries who have long insisted on advancing the values of equality and independence in the world!

This means exploring how best to take forward the establishment of a new type of international relations and build together a world order that is based on win-win cooperation.

The Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence were developed in Asia because they inherit the ideological tradition of the Asian peoples who advocate peace. People who have never tried to impose their ideas on other continents, or political and economic levels of different thinking, as we know happened in Europe, which for centuries considered itself the source of truth at every level, from the social to the religious ones.

The Chinese nation has always supported harmonious concepts in which there must be no uniformity and violence to impose them. It is not for nothing that Asian countries have always upheld concepts such as benevolence, charity, and peace. Tagore, the great Indian poet, wrote: ‘Do you think you can achieve friendship through war? Spring will slip away before your eyes’.

President Xi Jinping has always maintained that the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence vividly reflect the aims and objectives of the UN Charter and offer a visible, feasible, and achievable connotation to them. They do not only represent the new expectations of Asian countries for international relations but also embody the spirit of the international rule of law that should unify the rights and obligations as well as responsibilities of all countries in the world.

Through those principles, as early as the 1950s, the People’s Republic of China and some Asian countries resolved old disputes. For example, in the 1960s, China and Myanmar (Burma) settled the border issue properly: the two countries signed a border treaty, which was the first of its kind signed by New China with neighbouring countries. The two countries also signed the Treaty of Friendship and Non-Aggression, which again was the first treaty of peace and friendship between Asian countries.

Since the end of the 1960s, the Five Principles have not only taken root in Asia, but have also become deeply rooted and spread throughout the world. President Xi Jinping believes that summariזing the practice of international relations, the Five Principles have a strong vitality.  India itself stated a short while ago that if the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence were recogniזed in relations between all countries, there would be almost no conflicts and wars in the world.

It is indisputable that since the time of President Xi Jinping's leadership, the Five Principles - as open and inclusive principles in international law - have withstood the test of the vicissitudes of the world situation and embody the values of sovereignty, justice, the rule of law and democracy - understood as the independence of States from the oppressive will of more powerful States, and not in the liberal propagandistic sense as the political expression of parties representing the privileged and exploitative classes that manage financial capital.

The Five Principles are indeed becoming the fundamental rules of international relations. They scientifically frame the essential characteristics of the new type of foreign affairs. They are an interconnected, mutually and indivisibly reinforcing unit, and are applicable to relations between countries of various social systems, levels of development, and sizes.

In 1955, for example, the Ten Principles adopted by the Bandung Conference were an extension and development of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. The Non-Aligned Countries Movement, which emerged in the 1960s, adopted the Five Principles as its fundamental guide. The relevant declarations adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1970 and 1974 accepted the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. These have been adopted by a number of international organizations and covenants and treaties in the world today and have been widely recognized and respected by the international community.

Indeed, the Five Principles safeguard the rights and interests of developing countries. The essence of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence is that all countries have equal sovereignty and oppose any country's monopoly on international affairs. This provides a powerful ideological weapon for developing countries to defend their national sovereignty and independence. They become a banner for these countries to unite, cooperate and strengthen each other through militant solidarity, which deepens mutual understanding and trust, promotes South-South cooperation, while developing and increasing North-South cooperation. The main aim of the Five Principles is currently their contribution to the establishment of a more just and reasonable international political and economic order. The Five Principles reject the law of the jungle in which the strong can prey on the weak. It has been a clear anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist sign since the independences of the 1960s that accelerated the collapse of the formal colonial system. In the context of the Cold War, ‘spheres of influence’ and other methods failed to adequately manage relations between countries, leading to peripheral regional conflicts over expanding interference. In stark contrast, the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence opened a new path for the peaceful resolution of long-standing issues and international disputes between countries.

Today's world is undergoing profound and complex changes. The trend of times of peace, development, cooperation and win-win situations is increasingly becoming a community of destiny where ‘we are among you and you are among us’. At the same time, injustice and inequality in international relations are still evident, global challenges are emerging one after the other, and various regional conflicts and local wars are taking place in many countries without the screen of ideologies, but with a clear attempt to seize resource-rich territories. People, especially children, still live in the fires of war, and many developing countries still remain in the flames of war. People still suffer from hunger and cold. There is still a long way to go to maintain world peace and promote common development.

In this situation, the spirit of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence is not obsolete, but remains fully relevant. The meaning of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence is not watered down, but becomes deeper; it is not weakened, but strengthened over time.

Sovereignty is the fundamental symbol of national independence and the basic manifestation and reliable guarantee of national interests. Sovereignty and territorial integrity cannot be violated and countries should respect each other's fundamental interests and main concerns. These are hard truths that cannot be evaded at any time and we should never waver before them. 

President Xi Jinping states that countries, big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, are all equal members of the international community and have equal rights to participate in international affairs. The affairs of each country should be managed by the people of that country. We must respect the social systems and development paths chosen independently by each country and oppose the use of illegal means to subvert the legitimate political power of other countries for selfish interests or opinions.

Furthermore, security should be universal. All countries have the right to participate in international and regional security affairs on an equal footing, and all have a responsibility to maintain international and regional security.

The concept of common, global, cooperative and sustainable security must be upheld and the security of each country must be respected and protected. A country cannot be safe while other countries are not, while some countries are secure and others are not, not to mention so-called absolute security at the expense of the security of others. We therefore need to strengthen international and regional cooperation, to jointly respond to the growing number of non-traditional security threats, to resolutely combat all forms of terrorism and to eradicate the breeding ground for it.

When dealing with differences and disputes between countries, we must insist on resolving them peacefully through dialogue and consultation, increasing mutual trust through dialogue, and not resorting to or threatening force. The willingness to use force is a sign of moral poverty. Only security based on ethics can have a solid foundation and be truly lasting. We need to promote the construction of a new architecture for Asia-Pacific security cooperation that is open, transparent and fair, and to encourage all countries to jointly safeguard regional and global peace and security. 

Some countries are becoming ever richer, while others remain poor and backward for a long time. This situation is unsustainable. We must jointly safeguard and develop an open world economy, jointly promote strong, sustainable, and balanced growth of the world economy, promote the liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment, adhere to open regional cooperation, oppose all forms of protectionism, and oppose any policy of welfare  and blackmailing handouts.

Xi Jinping maintains that we should combine the national interests of each State with the common interests of all countries and strive to expand convergence in every possible direction because the issue is not to solve a problem and leave another unresolved, but to find solutions acceptable to all parties. We need to actively establish the new win-win and multi-win concept, and relinquish the old approach based on the idea that you lose, I win, and the winner takes it all.

Bearing this in mind, rights and responsibilities must be shared, to work together to address growing global issues such as climate change, energy and resource security, network security and major natural disasters, and to jointly protect the earth, our home, on which mankind depends.

Respect for international law is the basis of the universally recognised fundamental principles of international relations. It uses uniformly applicable rules to distinguish right from wrong, to promote peace and to seek development. In the international community, law should be the common standard. There is no law that applies only to others but not to us, and there is no law that applies only to us but not to others.  There should be no double standards in the implementation of law. We should jointly safeguard the authority and seriousness of international law and international order, which have been violated in recent years. In the name of the rule of law, all countries should exercise their rights in accordance with the law, and oppose the distortion of international law and the violation of other countries' legitimate interests and the threat to peace and stability. 

Regarding the development of Xi Jinping's theses, five years after the pandemic, the recent trip to France - on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and France - Hungary and Serbia, gave the Chinese leader an opportunity to reaffirm his three initiatives for global development, global security and global civilization, pointing the direction of human society towards these three dimensions, to provide strategic guidance to China’s international relations.

Xi Jinping has already recently argued that the global economic recovery is fragile and weak. Various security challenges are emerging one after another; misunderstandings, estrangements and even conflicts between different civilizations still exist, and deficits in peace, development, security and governance continue to grow.

Focusing on promoting the development and progress of human society, in recent years President Xi Jinping has been contributing to the improvement of the international scenario and to managing and mediating in global challenges and solving problems.

Peace, stability, abundance of materials and spiritual wealth are the fundamental goals of development. Development is the material basis for security and civilization, and security is the fundamental prerequisite for all this. President Xi Jinping emphasizes that they complement each other and unite the international community to strengthen cooperation and tackle challenges together, once a broad consensus is created that benefits all, but is balanced, coordinated and inclusive.

More than 100 countries and international organizations have supported the Global Development Initiative; more than 70 have joined the ‘Global Development Initiative Group’, and nearly 30 countries and international organizations have signed memoranda of understanding on cooperation with the People’s Republic of China. Furthermore, the Global Development Initiative is fully in line with the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and closely follows the most urgent needs of developing countries to meet people's livelihood needs, promotes the building of cooperation platforms and partnerships in key areas such as poverty reduction, food security, industrialization and connectivity in the digital age, as well as deepen practical cooperation and strengthen knowledge sharing on development for the benefit of most developing countries.

Furthermore, we need to insist on promoting peace and negotiation on burning issues such as the Ukrainian crisis and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and to find political solutions to further global crises, such as the climate issue. 

The Global Civilisation Initiative advocates respecting the diversity of the world's civilizations, promoting the common values of all mankind, attaching importance to the heritage and innovation of civilizations, strengthening international exchanges and cooperation between peoples, and promoting inclusive coexistence, exchanges and mutual learning between different civilizations.

The three initiatives advocated by President Xi Jinping have taken root and are leading the international community in the right direction of common development, peace and long-term stability. Looking ahead, China will continue to work with all parties to actively implement the three initiatives aimed at a world community with a shared future.

Regarding the trade friction between China and the European Union, the following question arises: cooperation or confrontation? The EU is therefore at a critical crossroads in its relations with China.

The UK's ‘Financial Times’ reported on 27 January that many European photovoltaic companies have recently announced factory closures, and that the EU is considering imposing punitive tariffs or anti-dumping investigations on Chinese photovoltaic products, as well as implementing subsidies to encourage countries to keep factories running.

In this regard, the German media criticized the fact that European photovoltaic companies have no obvious technical advantages and that the so-called ‘subsidies’ will have no substantial effect. Even the German Renewable Energy Association warned that blindly targeting Chinese investment and companies could threaten workers employed in related jobs in Europe.

Europe is a beneficiary of the multilateral trading system. In an article two days later ‘The Wall Street Journal’ claimed that this was precisely the reason why Brussels might reintroduce the Trumpian system, which pursues ‘America First’ and anti-globalization. The election of the US President causes concern. Some observers believe that the European Commission's repeated defense that ‘risk reduction’ does not equate to ‘decoupling’ shows that the EU believes that ‘decoupling and disconnecting’ the Chinese economy is not in its interest. Both the European Parliament and the USA will be holding important elections this year. How to get along with China will test the political wisdom of European leaders. As is well known, China is willing to enter into a dialogue with the EU on supply chain stability to remove mutual doubts. And it is believed that as long as Europe adheres to strategic independence, the world will not repeat the mistakes of the Cold War and bloc confrontation.

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Commentary | Taiwan belongs to the Chinese people

Image removed.

A few days ago Italian diplomacy made a gaffe - and I do not know whether it was a bona fide slander or a literal lack of style - by violating the rules of international law related to Resolution No. 2758 of 25 October 1971, which states that the General Assembly of the United Nations:

“Recognising that the representatives of the Government of the People's Republic of China are the only lawful representatives of China at the United Nations and that the People's Republic of China is one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, 

Decides to restore all its rights to the People's Republic of China and to recognise the representatives of its government as the only legitimate representatives of China to the United Nations, and to expel forthwith the representatives of Chiang Kai-shek from the place which they unlawfully occupy at the United Nations and in all organisations related to it.”

Italy sent official representatives of State institutions to the island, and what is even more severe is that Italy and Taiwan do not even have diplomatic relations.

The regrettable and shameful incident, however, gives us the opportunity to reflect on the fact that Taiwan belongs and has always belonged to the Chinese people from time immemorial. It was created as an entity in its own right following the escape to the island of the Guomindang (Nationalist Party) in 1945 after the defeat suffered in the civil war. An escape made under the protection of a foreign power that occupied a region of the Chinese State. If we go back to Italy’s past, the case of Taiwan is reminiscent of the attempts to make Sicily independent from Italy (1942-1951).

As to the Asian island, let us go back in time.

Taiwan has never been an independent country, but an integral part of China. Countless historical evidence and legal facts prove that Taiwan has always been an integral part of Chinese territory. Taiwan has belonged to China since ancient times. The Chinese were the first to develop Taiwan. 

Most of the ancestors of Taiwan's current residents immigrated from mainland China. The Linhai Tuizhi written in 230 AD during the Three Kingdoms period contains the first description of Taiwan. After the Song and Yuan dynasties, China’s central governments began to establish administrative agencies in Penghu and Taiwan to exercise jurisdiction. Although Taiwan experienced a brief imperialist colonial rule in history, it was actually ruled by the Chinese government for the vast majority of the time.

In July 1895, with the Treaty of Shimonoseki, the Qing government was forced to cede Taiwan and the Penghu Islands, as a result of defeat in the Sino-Japanese War of 1895-1895. In 1941, in its Declaration of War against Japan, the Chinese government announced it would abrogate all unequal treaties with the Rising Sun and recover Taiwan and the Penghu Islands. In December 1943, the governments of China, the United States of America and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland issued the Cairo Declaration, clearly stating that Japan had to return the stolen Chinese territories to China, including Northeast China, Taiwan and the Penghu Islands. 

In 1945 the Potsdam Declaration - signed by China, the United States of America and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which was later joined by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics - reaffirmed that “the terms of the Cairo Declaration” would “be implemented”. In September of the same year, Japan signed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender and promised to loyally fulfil its obligations under the Potsdam Declaration. On 25 October, the Chinese government announced that it would restore the exercise of sovereignty over Taiwan and attended the ceremony to return Taiwan province to China in the capital Taipei. Therefore, China took Taiwan back both de iure and de facto.

The Taiwan issue is a legacy of the Chinese civil war. Shortly after the victory in the war against japan, civil war broke out in China between the Guomindang and the Communist Party. On 1 October 1949, the People's Republic of China was proclaimed. Some of the defeated Guomindang military and political personnel had fled to the island of Taiwan. After the outbreak of the Korean War, the government of the United States of America intervened in China’s internal affairs with armed force and signed the so-called Mutual Defence Treaty with the Taiwanese defectors, leading to a severe situation of long-term political clash and confrontation in the Taiwan Strait. This led to the emergence of the Taiwan affair.

The government of the People’s Republic of China enjoys and fully exercises sovereignty over Taiwan. It should be noted that the government of the People’s Republic of China was established in 1949, replacing the previous government of the Republic of China (established on 1 January 1912) as the sole lawful government representing all of China. It was a change of power without any territorial change, the subject of jus gentium, which those ruling here in Italy have currently forgotten and probably never studied, and certainly ignored.

Sovereignty and territory are intrinsic to China. Territory has never changed and Taiwan's status as part of Chinese territory remains unchanged. It is obvious that the government of the People’s Republic of China fully enjoys and exercises sovereignty over its national territory, including Taiwan. 

As mentioned above, UN General Assembly Resolution No. 2758 completely resolved the issue of China's representation in the United Nations.

The 26th session of the UN General Assembly on October 25, 1971 adopted Resolution No. 2758 by an overwhelming majority (including Italy, although “Italy’s current rulers” do not know it). As mentioned above, the Resolution restored all rights to the People’s Republic of China. The Resolution still reaffirms that the government of the People’s Republic of China is the only legitimate government representing all of China, including Taiwan, both nationally and internationally. It is clear that China has only one seat at the UN and there is not an issue of “two Chinas” or of “one China, one Taiwan”.

The legal opinions of the Legal Affairs Department of the UN Secretariat on all Taiwan issues clearly state that “Taiwan, as a province of China, has no independent status”. It can therefore be said that the Resolution has completely resolved the issue of who represents China internationally, both politically and legally.

Resolution No. 2758 provides the legal basis for the UN system and agencies to properly manage Taiwan-related issues. It embodies the authority of international law and becomes the fundamental rule by which all UN Member States must abide. Taiwan has no basis, reason or right to participate in the United Nations and other international organisations in which only sovereign States can participate. In practice, the UN system and agencies use the denomination “Taiwan, Province of China” to refer to Taiwan.

The “One China” principle has a clear meaning: there is only one China in the world; Taiwan is part of China and the government of the People’s Republic of China is the only lawful government representing all of China. Furthermore, countries that have diplomatic relations with China cannot have any official exchanges with Taiwan (they should remember this in the Italian government).

The One China principle represents the general consensus of the international community. The One China principle is a recognised fundamental rule in international relations and is also the political basis for China to establish and develop diplomatic relations with other countries in the world. As many as 183 countries in the world out of 192 in the UN, including the United States of America, have currently established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China based on the One China principle.

In conclusion, the historical and legal facts whereby Taiwan is part of China cannot be called into question. Taiwan's status has never changed as Taiwan has never been an independent country but a part of China. The so-called claim that China “invaded” Taiwan is ridiculous and not even worth being refuted. The Taiwan issue is a legacy of the Chinese civil war. It is China's internal affair and does not tolerate any external interference.

Resolution No. 2758 has resolved the issue of who will represent the whole of China, i.e. the government of the People’s Republic of China is the only lawful government to represent the whole of China, including Taiwan, to the United Nations and the world. The Resolution made it clear that there is only one China in the world. Taiwan is part of China and is a non-sovereign entity. 

The Resolution has reaffirmed the principle of One China. Over the past half-century and more since the Resolution's adoption, the United Nations’ Secretaries-General and their spokespersons have clearly stated, in their comments on Taiwan, that the United Nations is guided by UNGA Resolution No. 2758 and committed to the One China Principle. The official legal opinions of the UN Secretariat's Office of Legal Affairs have made it clear that Taiwan is “an integral part” of China and that “the United Nations regards ‘Taiwan’ as a province of China with no separate status.” This clearly shows that the One China principle is not only a prevailing international consensus, but also a fundamental rule in international relations.

Those who oppose this principle turn the wheel of history back and challenge not only the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the People’ Republic of China, but also the justice and conscience of the world community and the post-World War II international order. This is absurd and extremely dangerous.

Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is a world-renowned Italian economist and international relations expert, who serves as the President of the International Studies and Geopolitics Foundation, International World Group, Global Strategic Business In 1995, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem dedicated the Giancarlo Elia Valori chair of Peace and Regional Cooperation. Prof. Valori also holds chairs for Peace Studies at Yeshiva University in New York and at Peking University in China. Among his many honors from countries and institutions around the world, Prof. Valori is an Honorable of the Academy of Science at the Institute of France, Knight Grand Cross, Knight of Labor of the Italian Republic, Honorary Professor at the Peking University.

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