Enduring Effects of the Five Principles



Submission to the Fifth International Zhou Enlai Symposium
on Zhou Enlai Research
Nankai University, Tianjin; October 2018


 The Five Principles of Peace of Zhou Enlai:
Long-Term Effects in Ghana, Turkey and Indonesia

by Michael North




The Five Principles of Peace, authored by former Premier Zhou Enlai in 1953 and first introduced to the world in 1954, had far-reaching influence across the whole world.


This paper documents that influence on three developing nations (Ghana, Turkey and Indonesia), who were leading participants in the Non-Aligned Movement. It examines the evolving foreign policy of those nations, and selected Non-Governmental Organizations.


The study concludes that the Five Principles have been incorporated, sometimes directly and often indirectly by influence, in many organizations, and have made a significant contribution to the development of order, equality, mutual respect and peace.


Observations are made on the success of this master work of political philosophy by Zhou Enlai, and on how this success might be replicated and extended into the future, including current joint development efforts popularly known as “One Belt, One Road.”


Author Biography:


Michael North is a business development executive, with investor relationships across the United States and mainland China. With his wife, Xiaofang Zhou North, Michael is the co-founder of the Zhou Enlai Peace Institute, the co-author and designer of several books, including “A Man of Peace,” “Zhou Enlai Through American Eyes,” and “Deep Love.” He is a Research Fellow at Nankai University in Tianjin, and at the Pacific Study Center, Beijing Foreign Studies University. Michael has produced several film documentaries on the critical role played by Zhou Enlai as a peacemaker from China, has been the host of a number of public policy events in China and the United States, and authored a paper on leadership and Zhou Enlai for the Fourth Symposium.


More detail, in English and Chinese, at http://www.michael-north.com



The Five Principles of Peace of Zhou Enlai:

Long-Term Effects in Ghana, Turkey and Indonesia


by Michael North



In 1955, the world was electrified by the first meeting of the heads of state and foreign ministers of many developing nations in the Non-Aligned Movement in Bandung, Indonesia. The event was publicly called the Afro-Asian Conference, but because of its pivotal role in modern history is is is now referred to simply as the Bandung Conference. [1]


In the depths of the Cold War, the two super-powers of the 1950’s — the Soviet Union and the United States — were locked in a political, ideological, economic and military struggle for influence over the world. Both countries viewed their own sphere of influence as superior ideologically, critical to peace and justice, and there was immense pressure on the smaller, less-developed nations to adopt loyalty to one sphere or the other. [2]


This pressure, exerted continuously in bilateral diplomacy, international organizations, through debate at the United Nations and sometimes by proxy wars, was constant and often effective in influencing the behavior of developing countries. The approval and support of the Americans or the Soviets, expressed in the extension of economic and military aid, and political support, was often key to the success of the smaller nations.


These less-developed nations were divided, moving back and forth between the two spheres, sometimes maintaining separate loyalties in their foreign policy, often trying to develop their own independent policies. They each had complex internal histories, were struggling with independence from direct colonial control, and many sought to maintain a delicate balance.  [3]


Nonetheless, the developing countries of the world constituted the majority of the globe’s population; there were essential to the global economy, as markets, for their natural resource, and for their control of sea lanes. Culturally, they were profoundly influential as philosophical and religious leaders of the people of the world.


This imbalance all began to change at the Bandung Conference, as the developing countries met each other with serious purpose, and began to coalesce around a united, independent stance toward the world and the super-powers. They began to call themselves the Non-Aligned Movement, and to develop joint policies and principles that were not dependent on living under dominance of one superpower over the other.


At its best, the Non-Aligned Movement asserted an independent course for developing nations; not firmly in the sphere of America or the Soviet Union and not paralyzed into a mere reactive posture, simply opposing one way or the other. They were developing their own set of values and policies, based both and independence and interdependence, focused on actions that would benefit the common man and woman. [4]


At Bandung, the leader of this movement and the philosophy behind it began to emerge as the People’s Republic of China, under the charismatic, intellectually brilliant direction of its Premier and Foreign Minister, Zhou Enlai.


At the Conference, which took about a week and involved dozens of plenary and private sessions, Premier Zhou explained and proclaimed the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence (often abbreviated as the Five Principles of Peace), which he had first written in late 1953. Zhou Enlai was a master persuader, and he focused all his charm and intellect on persuading his colleagues to take this new approach seriously. [5]


Together with India’s prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, Zhou had condensed those principles as:

  1. Mutual respect for each nation’s territorial integrity and sovereignty
  2. Mutual non-aggression
  3. Mutual non-interference in each other’s internal affairs
  4. Equality and mutual benefit
  5. Peaceful co-existence

The Five Principles were first put into practice in 1954, a few months after they were first written by Zhou Enlai in the dead of a bitter, difficult winter in Beijing. They were embodied in a treaty in Nepal that resolved long-standing disputes between China and India.

The divided nations now had a simple, profound guide to their independence, and the Non-Aligned Movement began to grow.


The Five Principles, expanded somewhat into ten key ideas, were unanimously ratified by the 29 nations attending Bandung:


Kingdom of Afghanistan, Burma,  Kingdom of Cambodia, Dominion of Ceylon, People’s Republic of China, Cyprus, Republic of Egypt, Ethiopian Empire, Gold Coast, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kingdom of Iraq, Japan, Jordan, Kingdom of Laos, Lebanon, Liberia, Kingdom of Libya, Kingdom of Nepal, Dominion of Pakistan, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Syrian Republic, Republic of the Sudan, Thailand, Turkey, State of Vietnam, Democratic Republic of Vietnam, Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen. Brazil attended as an observer. [6]


The ten key ideas detailed some of the practical implications of the original Five Principles. The Five Principles remained central, however, as the essence of the Movement’s thinking, simple enough for anyone to grasp, memorize, connect to each other and explain, even if there were obstacles of literacy and education:


  • Respect for fundamental human rights and for the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. [7]
  • Respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations.
  • Recognition of the movements for national independence.
  • Recognition of the equality of all races and of the equality of all nations, large and small.
  • Abstention from intervention or interference in the internal affairs of another country.
  • Respect for the right of each nation to defend itself singly or collectively, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations.
  • Refraining from acts or threats of aggression or the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any country.
  • Settlement of all international disputes by peaceful means, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations.
  • Promotion of mutual interests and co-operation.
  • Respect for justice and international obligations. [8]


There was concern at the time that China, as the most populous nation in the group, would attempt to dominate this new movement, forming a third sphere of influence. However, it was reported that “The Chinese prime minister, Zhou Enlai, displayed a moderate and conciliatory attitude that tended to quiet fears of some anticommunist delegates concerning China’s intentions.”


After 65 years, what have been the enduring results and benefits, if any, of the Five Principles and the Bandung process? As this paper is written in mid-2018, what measurable effects might there be on the participating nations, their foreign policies and development philosophies?


Surely, the events of the mid-1950’s have been long forgotten by now, superseded by so many other movements, conferences and conflicts.


The beginning of an answer to this question may be an examination of brief slices from three of the original, leading Bandung nations: Ghana (known in 1955 as Gold Coast), Indonesia and Turkey.


If these three nations, from three widely separated regions, with three very different political organizations and traditions, still maintain a common thread that traces itself back to Bandung, that would be significant.


And perhaps valuable lessons can be learned, for today’s challenges, in 2018 and beyond.


In the Republic of Ghana, full independence from Great Britain was achieved in 1957. Premier Zhou Enlai and Foreign Minister Chen Yi of China visited the capital, Accra, in 1964. President Kwame Nkrumah, one of West Africa’s most dominant post-colonial leaders, celebrated the leadership shown by Zhou Enlai and China. [9] Though he had just survived an assassination attempt, which prompted calls for postponing the visit of the Chinese delegation, Nkrumah went forward with the visit, after Zhou publicly encouraged him:


“We cannot cancel the visit because they encountered difficulties, as it would only show our disrespect and a lack of support. We will go and show our sincerity during hardship.” [10]


This steadiness of purpose was never forgotten by the leadership of Ghana and the Ghanaian people. Starting with Bandung, and building through the Zhou Enlai visit, the ties between China and Ghana have grown more and more important through the decades.


The most influential Ghanaian diplomat of his generation, Kofi Annan, who went on to serve ten years as Secretary-General of the United Nations, told The New York Times, in 1997:


“It was an exciting period. People of my generation, having seen the changes that took place in Ghana, grew up thinking all was possible.” [11]


Echoing the Five Principles, Annan spoke to the Parliament of Ghana when he first became Secretary-General:


”I will try very hard to solve the problems of the continent,” he said. ”But for assistance to be effective, these governments must get their own house in order. They should open their political systems. They should take steps to reduce if not eliminate corruption. In a way, I think that comes with the opening of the economy.” [12]


Independent Ghanaian economist and journalist, Paul Frimpong, reported in 2014:


“It is very intriguing that China has risen to become the second largest economy in the world and is even set to overtake the US to become the number one largest economy in the world.

“To some of us, it is not surprising because the steady rise of China in the global economy (economic and political) is hinged on what is documented as the ‘Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence’. Interestingly, the various Pan-African institutions established on the continent after decades upon decades, have consistently failed to meet even half of its set objectives. Yet China, a country with over 1 billion people, have been able to institutionalize these principles to become a guiding principle to transform their economy and as well establish their presence in the global economy.”  [13]



In Turkey, the long waves of influence of Bandung and Zhou Enlai can also be clearly seen.


Unal Cevokoz is an elected Member of the Turkish Grand National Assembly and the Deputy Chairperson of the Republican People’s Party, former Turkish Ambassador to the United Kingdom.


Cevikoz wrote an analysis of Turkey’s foreign policy in early 2018, identifying five enduring principles of diplomacy for Turkey. The analysis, “Five principles for a visionary foreign policy for Turkey” sets forward these core ideas: 


  • be a respectable and honest broker between regional nations
  • strengthen commitments to traditional allies
  • commit to international alliances
  • fair, transparent relations with Russia
  • align foreign policy with international interests, not domestic [14]


These are tactical implementations of Zhou Enlai’s Five Principles, echoed more than 60 years later, as follows:


  • Sovereignty
  • respectable and honest broker between regional nations
  • Non-aggression
  • fair, transparent relations with Russia


  • Non-interference
  • strengthen commitments to traditional allies


  • Equality and mutual benefit
  • commit to international alliances
  • Peaceful co-existence
  • align foreign policy with international interests, not domestic


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey takes up these themes and elaborates upon them. The core principles of Turkish foreign policy are peace, prosperity and stability, with humanitarian ideals at their core:


“Turkey has a comprehensive, peace oriented, and principled vision and is committed to making use of all its means and capabilities towards this twin objective. [15]


Turkish diplomacy is ambitious in its scope, and global in reach; the nation participates in dozens of international bodies, speaking and writing with energy that is reminiscent of Zhou Enlai’s example. Two small, important but little-noted examples are:


The first ever World Humanitarian Summit was held in Turkey in 2011 [16], and Turkey has taken a huge responsibility in helping with the humanitarian crisis in Syria. At the United Nations, Turkey is a founder of the Group of Friends of Mediation, championing the importance of peaceful co-existence. [17]



Indonesia has its own Five Principles (Pancasila), which predate and anticipate the Five Principles of Peace of Zhou Enlai. The word Pancasila is originally derived from Sanskrit: “pañca” (“five”) and “sīla” (“principles”).


Though the matchup with Zhou Enlai’s work is not perfect, the parallels are clear:


  1. Belief in one God.
  2. Just and civilized humanity
  3. Unity of Indonesia (through diversity of its peoples).
  4. Sovereignty of the people.
  5. Social Justice. [18]


“Just and civilized humanity” connects with the non-aggression and non-interference principles of Zhou Enlai; “Sovereignty of the people” is the same as the Sovereignty principle; and “Social Justice” connects to the Equality and Peaceful Co-Existence principles.


There is a clear common wellspring of inspiration and understanding between Indonesia’s core principles and the Five Principles of Peace originating in China.


Indonesia’s city of Bandung, where it all began, remains focused and committed to its role in history. The legacy of Bandung is a proud part of Indonesia’s history, at many of the original members of the Bandung Conference re-assembled there in 2005, on the 50th anniversary of the original conference.


In 2005, on the 50th anniversary of the original conference, leaders from Asian and African countries met in Jakarta and Bandung to launch the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership (NAASP). [19]


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia draws these important commitments directly from the Bandung conference, and incorporates them into own their enduring policy:


“We reiterate our conviction that the Spirit of Bandung, the core principles of which are solidarity, friendship and cooperation, continue to be a solid, relevant and effective foundation for fostering better relations among Asian and African countries and resolving global issues of common concern. The 1955 Bandung Conference remains as a beacon in guiding the future progress of Asia and Africa.”


The Five Principles of Peace are not static; they continue to evolve, take on new priorities and meaning in line with the issues of the 21st century:


“The NAASP shall emphasize the need to promote practical cooperation between the continents in areas such as trade, industry, investment, finance, tourism, information and communication technology, energy, health, transportation, agriculture, water resources and fisheries.”  [20]







The Spirit of Bandung continues to grow, and has spawned many active supporting endeavors. [21]


The Non-Aligned Movement, which started with 29 brave pioneers in 1955, has now grown to 120 countries, and continues to thrive, based on the original Five Principles of Peace.


The Zhou Enlai Peace Institute sponsored a celebration in 2014 at the National People’s Congress in Beijing, to which the three Bandung Nations cited here (Ghana, Turkey and Indonesia) all sent senior diplomatic representatives, including the Ghanaian Ambassador to China. [22]


The Peace Institute produced a documentary about the Five Principles and Bandung, which is available here, in English and in Chinese:





The Five Principles of Peace have proven their enduring value in international affairs for 65 years; they have been relied upon by billions of people to help secure peace in challenging times.


Unfortunately, the Five Principles have not been 100% successful in assuring universal peace. War and its cousins, refugees, hunger and disease, are still far too imminent a presence in many parts of the world. If one is determined to look for hope, it may be found in the fact that, in the era between the end of World War II and 2018, there have been no conflicts of global proportions; there have been no wars directly involving the major powers; and there has been no repeat of the tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.


One of the most comprehensive strategies for developing sustainable peace has been widely adopted after its declaration by the United Nations in 2015. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGsU) ripple with the influence of the original Five Principles of Peace. [23]


It would be unreasonable to claim that the SDGs are derived directly and consciously from Zhou Enlai’s work in 1953. Yet all work in today’s fields of conflict prevention and resolution, balanced economic development, social and environmental justice is at least subliminally influenced by the seeds planted in Bandung. Words and examples matter; teachers and mentors influence their students; the torch continues to be passed from generation to generation.


A mindful respect for that history, and the leaders who forged it, could make today’s ambitious commitments more self-aware, more historically grounded, and therefore stronger and more practically effective.


In 2013, President Xi Jinping of China announced his nation’s boldest global statement ever, in the initiative that has come to be known as “One Belt, One Road.” [24]


The “Belt and Road” is an ambitious implementation of the Five Principles, driven by a sweep that fulfills the promise of Zhou Enlai’s vision: trade, culture, technology, agriculture, infrastructure, banking and finance, telecommunications, public and private investment, transportation, health, culture, capital, justice, humanitarian aid and principles, infrastructure, energy and much more.


If this integrated vision, which President Xi also calls “ecological civilization,” [25] is to fulfill its potential in the long term, it must achieve the simplicity, clarity, universality and humility and attention to detail characterized by Zhou Enlai’s original work.


In 2015, the Chinese Ambassador to Indonesia drew a straight line from Bandung, to the Belt and Road Initiative. Speaking in Jakarta at the 60th Anniversary celebration of the Bandung Conference, Ambassador Xie Feng said:


“The China-proposed ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiatives will provide opportunities to Asian-African nations and contribute to Asian-African cooperation.” [26]


Zhou Enlai accomplished much, by not trying to accomplish everything. He first defined high goals and principles that were easy for anyone to understand, accessible to ordinary people regardless of education or training. He kept it simple, and memorable.


Then, crucially, he led in implementing that vision in small, practical, incremental ways. He was not interested in grand gestures. He was interested in personal diplomacy, involving and directly benefiting ordinary people; patient and compassionate. He was interested in small, meaningful, measurable results.


Premier Zhou was the consummate listener, and never insisted that people follow his way. A compromise was not a sign of weakness for Zhou Enlai; it was a sign of strength. After Bandung, Zhou Enlai spent the rest of his life tirelessly traveling the world, meeting leaders and ordinary people, serving as an evangelist for the Five Principles of Peace.


This approach, consistent with Chinese philosophy and the highest lessons of her history and culture, may work to sustain the One Belt, One Road effort, allowing China to serve the people of the world, and to form partnerships with other leaders of peace, in countless mutually beneficial ways.


A good start has been made; the World Bank estimates there are 65 participating countries, including 62% of the world’s population and 30% of the global GDP as of March 2018. [27]


Significantly (and not coincidentally), many of the participants in the Belt and Road are original Bandung nations, or Non-Aligned Movement nations. A reserve of trust was created by Zhou Enlai that may translate into one of the largest and most effective international development movements in history.




[1] The Bandung Conference: https://www.britannica.com/event/Bandung-Conference

[2] Roots of the Cold War: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/aug/28/the-cold-war-a-world-history-odd-arne-westad-review

[3] Developing Nations and the Cold War: https://www.bartleby.com/essay/The-Impact-of-the-Cold-War-on-F3C4SEWYVJ

[4] Unique philosophy of the Non-Aligned Movement: https://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences-and-law/political-science-and-government/international-organizations/nonaligned-movement

[5] Zhou Enlai and the Bandung Conference: http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/917861.shtml

[6] Founding Members of the Non-Aligned Movement: http://www.namstct.org/nam_his.htm

[7]  Charter of the United Nations: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charter_of_the_United_Nations

[8]  Ten Key ideas of Bandung: http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2015-04/22/c_134173600.htm

[9] Kwame Nkrumah and the Non-Aligned Movement: http://iins.org/kwame-nkrumahs-legacy-in-upholding-principles-of-non-aligned-movement/

[10] Zhou Enlai Comments about Ghana Visit: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/world/2014livisitafrica/2014-05/05/content_17483420.htm

[11] Kofi Annan, New York Times interview: https://www.nytimes.com/1997/01/07/world/how-un-chief-discovered-us-and-earmuffs.html

[12] ibid, New York Times

[13] Paul Frimpong, in “Modern Ghana”: https://www.modernghana.com/news/553263/its-five-in-one-chinas-five-principles-of-peaceful-co-exi.html

[14] Turkey: Five Diplomatic Principles – http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/opinion/unal-cevikoz/five-principles-for-a-visionary-foreign-policy-for-turkey-125138

[15] Principles of Turkish Foreign Policy: http://www.mfa.gov.tr/synopsis-of-the-turkish-foreign-policy.en.mfa

[16] World Humanitarian Summit: https://www.agendaforhumanity.org/summit

[17] Group of Friends of Mediation https://peacemaker.un.org/friendsofmediation

[18] Indonesia – National Principles https://www.britannica.com/topic/Pancasila

[19]  2005 Bandung Conference Declaration: http://www.kemlu.go.id/Documents/NAASP/Hyperlink%201.pdf

[20]  ibid, 2005 Bandung Conference Declaration

[21] https://bandungconference.com

[22] http://www.zhouenlaipeaceinstitute.org/five-principles-of-peace-2/celebration-banquet-photos/

[23] The United Nations: Sustainable Development Goals: http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/sustainable-development-goals.html

[24] One Belt, One Road: http://english.gov.cn/news/top_news/2015/03/28/content_281475079055789.htm

[25] Ecological Civilization: http://web.unep.org/ourplanet/march-2016/articles/ecological-civilization

[26] http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2015-04/21/c_134171121.htm

[27] The Reach of the Belt and Road: https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/regional-integration/brief/belt-and-road-initiative