A force for peace in the world


Oct 25 marks the 50th anniversary of the restoration of the People’s Republic of China’s lawful seat in the United Nations as the sole representative of the Chinese people. This was the culmination of some 22 years of struggle, with numerous twists and turns.

The efforts to gain recognition that the PRC was the rightful occupant of the seat reflected much of what was taking place in the world at that time. It was at the height of Cold War which was unleashed by the United States and the United Kingdom in 1947, following Winston Churchill’s well-known speech at Fulton, Missouri, in which he spoke about rolling back communism.

So intense was the struggle that it became possible to measure the political nature of a country by the attitude of that particular country to the resolution to grant the PRC its place at the UN.

The resolution kept going to the UN every year. While it was gaining support it did not have enough votes to pass due to procedural roadblocks orchestrated by some countries. But by the late 1960s, the anti-colonial struggles began making great headway and many new countries entering the UN supported the PRC.

On Oct 25, 1971, the resolution to seat the PRC was finally passed with a vote of 76 for, 35 against and 17 abstentions. This date has become one of the significant dates in international relations.

China always upheld the principles of the organization. Since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, it has firmly carried out a peaceful foreign policy that is fully consistent with the purposes of the UN Charter in maintaining peace and security.

China has always been known as a supporter of the developing countries in the world and has stood on the side of the oppressed.

Since the PRC regained its rightful place in the UN, the country has continued to pursue a policy of peace and friendship and to normalize relations with all countries. In 1978, it signed the Treaty of Peace and Friendship with Japan; in 1979, China and the US established diplomatic relations.

China’s foreign policy is a reflection of its own domestic situation. China wants to develop its economy and to provide more material and cultural goods to its people. Peace is indispensable for its continued growth.

One of the characteristic features of China’s foreign policy is the innovative ways it deals with international issues, many of which often seem intractable. For instance, its approach in reuniting the Chinese people and the country has taken into account the historical developments and the existing reality it faces. Thus, the proposal of having one country with two systems was groundbreaking. 

That policy is in practice today in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. This is the most viable option for peace in the region and the reunification of the Chinese people.

China’s contribution to the Third World has been enormous and has been designed to produce mutual benefits. Importantly, it is giving developing countries the possibilities to resist external pressure and allow them to follow their own chosen path of development. The developing world knows it has a reliable partner and friend in the PRC.

In 2013, President Xi Jinping made the bold and innovative proposal to establish modern Silk Roads to enhance the connectivity among countries. The Belt and Road Initiative has great potential to accelerate the growth of the international economy without imposing conditions on the world as a whole. This initiative has become central to international relations and is now promoting greater integration worldwide, building friendships and strengthening peace. It will certainly go down in history as one of the most important measures in generating prosperity for all.

China’s work in the various bodies of the UN has been outstanding. Its contribution to the World Health Organization, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and to peacekeeping has been enormous and it continues to grow.

China’s 50 years in the UN have been marked by some very important principles. It has rejected the zero-sum game in international relations and introduced the concept of win-win cooperation. The 50 years of the PRC presence at the UN have seen the world becoming a far better place for all mankind.

The author is former president of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.