December 21, 1988
Under the present favourable and peaceful international circumstances, China and India have a common responsibility to mankind -- to develop. Why so? Because together our two countries have a population of 1.8 billion, or more than one third of the world's total.
There are two major issues in the world today: one is peace and the other is development. There is hope of peace, but the problem of development has not yet been solved. People are saying that the North-South question is very serious. I think it is only a question of development. In talking with foreign friends I have said on many occasions that we should look at this problem in terms of the development of mankind as a whole. As things stand, only one quarter of the present world population lives in developed countries, while the other three quarters are in the developing or so-called underdeveloped countries. Although the international community has talked for years about the need to settle the North-South question, the gap between countries in the two hemispheres is not narrowing but constantly widening. Most of the three quarters of the world population live in China and India.
In recent years people have been saying that the next century will be the century of Asia and the Pacific, as if that were sure to be the case. I disagree with this view. If we exclude the United States, the only countries in the Asia-Pacific region that are relatively developed are Japan, the "four little dragons", Australia and New Zealand, with a total population of at most 200 million. Even if we include in the region the far eastern part of the Soviet Union and the West of the United States and Canada, the population is still only about 300 million. But the population of China and India adds up to 1.8 billion. Unless those two countries are developed, there will be no Asian century. No genuine Asia-Pacific century or Asian century can come until China, India and other neighbouring countries are developed. By the same token, there could be no Latin-American century without a developed Brazil. We should therefore regard the problem of development as one that concerns all mankind and study and solve it on that level. Only thus will we recognize that it is the responsibility not just of the developing countries but also of the developed countries.
History has shown that it is precisely the richer countries that are the less generous. In the final analysis, we have to depend on ourselves to develop and lift ourselves out of poverty. However, while relying on our own efforts, we should not close our doors but seek friends everywhere. China welcomes cooperation with developed countries, and we should also be happy to see cooperation between developing countries. This last is very important. In particular, the developing countries with large populations should have good policies in this respect. China is now carrying out the policies of reform and opening to the outside world and will strive to become developed in 50 to 70 years. If China and India are developed, we can say that we have made our contributions to mankind. It is precisely for this great goal that the Chinese government has suggested that all developing countries should improve relations and increase cooperation with each other. China and India in particular should do so. That is the view of our government.
The general world situation is changing, and every country is thinking about appropriate new policies to establish a new international order. Hegemonism, bloc politics and treaty organizations no longer work. Then what principle should we apply to guide the new international relations? I have talked about this matter recently with some foreign leaders and friends. Two things have to be done at the same time. One is to establish a new international political order; the other is to establish a new international economic order. With regard to the latter, I spent a long time on the subject when I spoke at the United Nations General Assembly in 1974. We have been talking about it all along, and we shall go on talking about it.
As for a new international political order, I think the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, initiated by China and India, can withstand all tests. These principles, established by Premier Zhou Enlai and Prime Minister Nehru, are very clear and simple. We should take them as norms for international relations. If we want to recommend these principles as a guide to the international community, first of all, we should follow them in our relations with each other and with our other neighbours. So far as we ourselves are concerned, our two countries should make some readjustments in relations with our neighbours. I am suggesting we do this; please consider it, Your Excellency. It would be an extraordinary thing, which many people would disapprove of. But if we act wisely and adopt a bold strategy, we can surely accomplish it. First of all, let us see to it that the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence are reflected in the press communique about the visit of Your Excellency.
The world is changing, so people's minds have to change with it. Because of mistakes made in the past, especially during the "cultural revolution", we have wasted about twenty years when we could have been building our country. After the downfall of the Gang of Four, everything has been changing here in China too. For example, we have changed from taking class struggle as the central task to concentrating on modernization, we have changed from stagnation and a closed-door policy to reform and a policy of opening to the outside world, and we are carrying out all sorts of reforms. I think your country will also encounter this problem of change. Development means change; without change, there can be no development.
(Excerpt from a talk with Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi of India.)