Journal

The 60th Anniversary Celebrations of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence

H.E. Ambassador U Wynn Lwin Former Ambassador of Myanmar to India
May I first express my heartfelt appreciation and thanks to the organizers of this forum for inviting us to this momentous occasion in celebration of the 60th Anniversary of The Five Principle of Peaceful Coexistence as well as for the warm welcome and hospitality and excellent travel arrangements.
 
My present visit to the People's Republic of China would make it my 8th visit to your marvelous country. The last time I was in China was 27 years ago in 1987 and I am indeed amazed at the many substantial and significant changes that have taken place in your country within that period. The tree that was planted and nurtured by past leaders of China with such vision and insight has bloomed with leaves, blossoms and fruit and has brought well-being and prosperity to the people of China. It is for me, who has always had affection for China, a source of joy to see such progress and development. Those great Chinese leaders whom I have held in such esteem had a close relationship with Myanmar. This was because in the period of the 1950s Myanmar had always been a stopover for them on their journeys to and from abroad. At the Bandung Conference of 29 Asian-Africa nations held in 1955 at Bandung, Indonesia, the People's Republic of China not only gained first contact with African nations, it also achieved prominence and esteem among the Asian-Africa nations.
 
At the conclusion of the Bandung Conference a 10-point joint declaration directed towards promotion of world peace and cooperation and the framing of a policy of neutrality in the ongoing "Cold War" of the super powers was issued. A review of the ten points will show that it incorporated not only the principles of the United Nations Charter but also the Pancheela or the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence that in years hence led to the non-aligned movement. Many held the view that this declaration represented the combined aspirations of the then leader of Indonesia Soekarno, Myanmar leader U Nu, leader of Egypt Nasser, Indian leader Nehru, leader of Yugoslavia Tito, Leader of Ghana Nkrumah, Chinese leader Zhou Enlai, Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh and Cambodian leader Sihanouk and was also intended as a valuable guideline for interrelationship among the newly independent countries that emerged after World War ll. Thus after the Bandung Conference it was remarked by many that the use of the term "strict neutrality" in Myanmar's foreign policy as well as the thinking behind the international policies of the newly independent nations was considered to have been greatly influenced by the concept of "Pancheela".
 
The issue of the Myanmar-China boundary arose not long after the conclusion of the Bandung Conference; it was an issue that was watched with interest by the rest of the world. As you all know a country's boundary is an integral part of its sovereignty and is thus a matter that has to be handled with great finesse and sensitivity. Myanmar at the time was thus confronted with a highly complex situation with many difficult ramifications to overcome for resolving this critical matter. She lacked experience concerning negotiation on such a highly delicate issue as well as in the technical aspects of demarcation plus the fact of poor security in the remote border areas, the rough terrain and a long and mountainous border. Whatever the difficulties, the two countries proceeded to resolve the issue guided by "Pancheela", the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. The repeated negotiations and the spirit of "give and take" resulted in a win-win situation. The demarcation of a joint border over 1370 miles was completed successfully within a year. The China-Myanmar Joint Boundary matter strengthened bilateral relations and forged a stronger bond of friendship between the leaders of the two countries. This friendship came to be termed the "Swe Myo Pauk Phaw Chit Kyi Ye" which roughly means "close kinship affections”. According to some it even deserves to be termed a Time-Tested friendship.
 
However, in conclusion I would like to say that the deeper meaning and essence of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence that I once understood and value so much have seemed to have weakened over the years and are in a somewhat fragile condition. In a way this is understandable, and I hope forgivable; for these principles especially peaceful coexistence, are norms, and human beings have never been able to fully live up to such universal norms. Human beings are said to be rational, but they are also emotional and full of desires and wants, and these sometimes overwhelm good sense and reason. But though we may sometimes stumble in our good will and good intentions we must keep on trying to adhere to these moral principles as nearly as possible if the human race is to survive and flourish. So, it is my fervent hope that at this forum on the 60th anniversary of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence we will learn from the past and take stock of the present and instill in present and future generations the value and importance of these norms and that they will strive to adhere to them for peace and stability in this world, and for the sake of humanity.
 
Thank you!

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