(September 2, 2011)
Distinguished Secretary Sun Hailin and President Ma Yuemei,
Dear teachers and students,
Good afternoon. I'm very glad to come to the Alma Mater of our beloved Premier Zhou Enlai – Tianjin Nankai Middle School and have this face-to-face talk with students here. First of all, I'd like to thank Secretary Sun Hailin for the warm invitations and the thoughtful arrangement of the school.
Nankai Middle School is the place where Premier Zhou studied when he was young and a century-old institute renowned both at home and abroad. Having admired it for years, I've always thought of visiting it. I came and left Tianjin several times before and because of tight schedule I've never made the visit. This time I finally make it. Upon arrival at Tianjin this morning, I went to the Memorial of Zhou Enlai and Deng Yingchao to recall their great life of pursuing truth and working hard for the Party, the country and the people till their death and pay respects to their great strength of character. I'm deeply impressed by the visit. I toured the campus just now, visited the classroom and dormitory where Premier Zhou once studied and stayed, which made me both excited and emotional. Thinking that our beloved Premier Zhou once came out of there made me feel very warm.
Premier Zhou is a great Marxist, a proletarian revolutionary and an outstanding leader of our Party and nation. He is a great statesman, founder of diplomacy of New China and a world renowned excellent diplomat as well. I've worked 47 years at the forefront of China's diplomatic work. Luckily I had many close contacts with Premier Zhou when I was a young staff of foreign affairs and got his edification. I have deep respect for him. For many years, no matter when I worked in the Foreign Ministry or the State Council, on my desk there has always been a fine frame in which a bust of Premier Zhou was embedded. I always stare at the deep eyes of Premier Zhou and hope to take him as my role model and arm and encourage myself with his diplomatic thinking and style so that I'm able to fulfill the mission and defend the interest of the motherland and the people. Coincidently, my office in the State Council after I retired is just in the courtyard at the east side of Xihuating Hall, Zhongnanhai where Premier Zhou once worked and lived. The courtyard is called Lao Huiyi Ting where Premier Zhou used to hold important meetings. It has the same wall with Xihuating Hall. The two buildings are linked by a door. That should be a kind of lot.
The name Zhou Enlai has special meaning to the comrades engaged in the diplomatic work because Premier Zhou is the initiator, founder and exploiter of diplomacy of New China. As early as in the spring of 1947 when New China was not founded yet, the Kuomintang troops attacked Yan'an and the Party Central Committee made the strategic evacuation out of Yan'an. When our troops retreated to a place close to Sanjiao Township, Linxian County, Shanxi Province, a central foreign affairs group was set up according to the instruction of comrade Zhou Enlai. That group is the predecessor of the Foreign Ministry of New China. Comrade Zhou foresaw that the liberation of the whole country was approaching and after founding New China we would need a group of comrades who had certain foreign exchange experiences for the diplomatic work. Therefore, he especially gathered a team of comrades who participated in the revolution in Yan'an, understood foreign languages and once did foreign affairs to make preparations in advance.
After New China was founded, Premier Zhou also worked as the Foreign Minister for nine years during which he made painstaking efforts to develop the basic diplomatic policies and form the Foreign Ministry, including formulating rules and systems, enacting diplomatic disciplines, selecting and training diplomatic carders. Even after he stopped working as the Foreign Minister, during his 26 years of tenure as Premier, he was still in charge of the diplomatic work and guided the work of the Foreign Ministry. The 16-word principle proposed by Premier Zhou that "taking a firm stand, fully understanding the policies, building working skills and strictly observing the disciplines" remains the most important norm and standard which officials of the Foreign Ministry must abide by nowadays.
Premier Zhou is not only the decision-maker but also the director and practitioner of New China's diplomacy. With striking energy and outstanding skills, he made great contributions to the diplomatic undertaking. His diplomatic thinking manifested in his diplomatic practices is a valuable treasury, which has exerted far-reaching influence on the Chinese diplomacy and educated and nurtured one generation after another of Chinese diplomats.
His diplomatic thinking is profound and rich in content. There have been a lot of researchers and publications on his diplomatic thinking at home and abroad. I believe his diplomatic thought has four key points: independence, treating each other as equals, seeking common ground while shelving differences and peaceful coexistence. Running throughout Premier Zhou's diplomatic thought, they are not only the core of China's independent foreign policy of peace but also the origin and theoretical basis of Chinese diplomatic principles.
Independence is the basis starting point of Zhou Enlai's diplomatic thinking. At the very beginning of New China, Premier Zhou had taught us that "we have a basic position on diplomacy and that is the position of the Chinese nation and the position of independence and self-reliance" and "we must have the spirit of independence, must take the initiative and must have confidence." When New China was just founded, our diplomatic work faced numerous difficulties and challenges. The most pressing task was to figure out what kind of diplomatic policy should be taken in order to most effectively strengthen the newly born state and better maintain China's legitimate right and interest as a developing nation against the Cold War pattern where the east camp and the west camp confronted each other sharply.
At that time, only Soviet Union and a small number of Eastern European countries established diplomatic ties with us. The United States adopted the policy of political hostility, economic blockade and military threat to New China. We had to break that situation as soon as possible. Therefore, Premier Zhou, following the instructions of Chairman Mao Zedong of "starting all over again" and "cleaning up the house before inviting guests", came up with six diplomatic principles. The most fundamental one is to insist on diplomatic independence which is the starting point of formulating our diplomatic policies and handling international affairs. The key of independence is that "we shall not knuckle under any country so as to avoid becoming a tool of that country" and refrain from building alliance with any superpower. Even on the issue of handling the relations with Soviet Union and other socialist countries, Premier Zhou often stressed that "we are not exactly the same as those countries and cannot lose the independence of our Party and country". Thanks to sticking to the thinking and policy of diplomatic independence, New China won a relatively big room of making strategic choices. Independence has become the basic thinking and policy of Chinese diplomacy and still guides our diplomatic work today.
Treating each other as equals is an important principle of Zhou Enlai's diplomatic thinking. Premier Zhou upheld the equality of sovereignty of all countries and was against big power chauvinism. He advocates that all countries, being big or small, are equal and opposes bullying the small, domineering over the weak and oppressing the poor. We should treat big and super powers as equals to maintain our national interest and dignity. More importantly we should treat developing countries equally. We should support and respect each other and never impose upon others. Premier Zhou pointed out repeatedly that "support and respect are mutual. So long as we support and respect those countries, they will support and respect China. Doing that consistently, we will be able to make friends everywhere and become invincible." There are countless examples of equal treatment and mutual respect in Premier Zhou's diplomatic practices.
After New China was founded, the neighboring countries once had deep suspicion about it. There even emerged "China threat theory" in Burma. In 1954, Burmese Prime Minister U Nu once said frankly that "China is like an elephant while Burma is like a lamb. Whether the elephant huffs undoubtedly makes the lamb in deep fear." In response to this worry, Premier Zhou visited Burma nine times and held sincere and long talks with the Burmese leaders. In particular, when he was about to visit Burma in 1960 for the fourth time, he accepted the suggestion of U Nu, changed his schedule and arrived at Yangon one day earlier to participate in the local water splashing festival. That festival in Burma is just like Spring Festival in China. It is the most important holiday of Burma. Following the local custom, Premier Zhou dressed in the local way. He just had the cowpox vaccine and was susceptible to water. The accompanying comrades suggested him to just splash water symbolically. However, taking into account the friendship between China and Burma and the overall situation, he fit in the joyous atmosphere totally and splashed water in spirits with the local people in every shed. His passion and sincerity deeply moved the Burmese people. Later, U Nu told Chairman Mao that "to be honest with you, we really feel afraid of big countries. But this fear has been dispelled a lot after Premier Zhou visited Burma".
Coming to the relations with African countries, Premier Zhou especially emphasized equal treatment and respect for their wishes and demands. He insisted on providing them with assistances within China's own capacity without any conditions attached, speaking out for them in international affairs and supporting their justice position. From December 1963 to March 1964, he visited 14 Asian and African countries within altogether 70 days and reached out widely in order to maintain and strengthen China's solidarity and cooperation with them, which is unprecedented not only in China's diplomatic history but also in the history of world diplomacy. We also see that Premier Zhou's sincerity of treating Asian and African countries as equals laid down a solid foundation for China's friendship with those countries.
Seeking common ground while shelving differences is the highlight of Zhou Enlai's diplomatic thinking. Premier Zhou always said that it is natural countries are different politically. They should stay in touch, communicate ideas with each other, try to look for and expand commonalities, avoid and reduce differences and seek common ground instead of differences. In 1955, the first Asia-Africa Conference was held in Bandung, Indonesia. On that conference, Premier Zhou made a famous speech in which he comprehensively elaborated the idea of seeking common ground while shelving differences.
At that time, some countries plotted the "Kashmir Princess" event in order to sabotage the conference. The Chinese government rented an Indian chartered plane "Kashmir Princess" to carry Premier Zhou to the conference. However, Premier Zhou failed to board the flight in Hong Kong as scheduled because of some urgent business. Some members of the delegation took the flight to Indonesia first. The Taiwan Kuomintang Secret Service agents bought off a Hong Kong airport staff who sneaked a time bomb in the tail of the plane which exploded halfway. It is clearly a murder conspiracy targeted at Premier Zhou. Hearing about that, Chairman Mao called Premier Zhou who was in Kunming and persuaded him not to attend the conference for safety reason. Considering the importance of the conference, Premier Zhou still decided to go. He changed the route and left Beijing for Yangon and then Indonesia regardless of his personal safety. After arriving at Bandung, he found out that the conference in general was very lively and Asian and African countries demonstrated the common aspiration of building solidarity. But some people, at the instigation of the United States and other countries, made the voice that China was a believer in communism and did not stand side by side with other countries and sent out the unharmonious signal of "communist threat". In response, Premier Zhou decided to distribute the text of his written speech to the participants and make an impromptu one. In that famous speech, he told the delegates that "the Chinese delegation comes here to seek solidarity instead of fighting and comes here to seek common ground instead of differences." His speech concisely reflected his thinking of seeking common ground while shelving differences. After the Bandung conference, he mentioned the idea of seeking common ground while shelving differences on many other occasions and emphasized that this idea is applicable to country-to-country relations.
Seeking common ground while shelving differences is both a kind of thinking and a basic approach of understanding and solving issues. Talking about handling relations between countries, seeking common ground means trying to expand the commonality and shelving differences means recognizing and allowing certain differences. Premier Zhou not only put forward and advocated the thinking of seeking common ground while shelving differences but also is good at coordinating different opinions and seeking common ground from complicated contradictions. During the Bandung conference, he profoundly analyzed the commonality between China and other participating countries. He said that the common ground between China and the majority of Asian and African countries is "we both experienced the disasters and sufferings caused by colonialism. If we find out the common ground of getting rid of the disasters and sufferings caused by colonialism, we will easily be able to understand and respect, sympathize and support each other instead of doubting or be scared of each other, excluding or confronting each other". He also told the participants that "our conference should seek common ground while shelving differences and should recognize the common aspirations and demands" and that "we also need to understand each other and take care of each other's different opinions on a common ground". His remarks aroused strong resonance from the delegates, ultimately pushed the conference to reach consensus and established the ten principles of Bandung conference based on the five principles of peaceful coexistence. Those ten principles are also called the "Bandung spirit" in history.
Premier Zhou's diplomatic thinking of seeking common ground while shelving differences has been carried forward and developed in the practices of China's external relations. The design of "one country – two systems" proposed by comrade Deng Xiaoping in order to solve the Hong Kong and Macao issues and the proposal of "sovereignty belonging to China, setting aside disputes and pursuing joint development" in response to the issues of island ownership and maritime demarcation between China and some neighboring countries both enriched and carried forward Premier Zhou's diplomatic thinking.
In my several decades of diplomatic career, I feel keenly that seeking common ground while shelving differences is both a guiding principle and a code of behavior and at the same time a way of thinking. In the diplomatic memoir Jin Feng Xu Yu, I described eleven major diplomat events I experienced when I worked as the Foreign Minister and the State Councilor. The handling of many major diplomatic events has followed the thinking of seeking common ground while shelving differences. When addressing relations with the United States, Russia, European countries, Japan, Indonesia and India under the direct leadership of the Party Central Committee, we always need to abide by the guiding principle of seeking common ground while shelving differences. Only in this way can we remain rational and objective, be able to properly handle our relations with those countries and appropriately deal with complicated international affairs.
Peaceful coexistence is one of the most creative, representative and viable contents of Zhou Enlai's diplomatic thinking. In the early days of New China, "what will be the direction of New China's diplomacy" is a question drawing worldwide attention. On November 8, 1949, Premier Zhou pointed out at the conference on the establishment of the Foreign Ministry that the major diplomatic task of New China is "to build lasting peace". Peaceful coexistence with other countries became a major diplomatic objective of New China. Later, Premier Zhou made it clear on many occasions that China "wants peace and we will grow in peace" and "we uphold the settlement of all international disputes through peaceful consultations".
In 1953, when meeting with the Indian government delegation, Premier Zhou relatively comprehensively elaborated the five principles of peaceful coexistence, i.e. mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non- interference in each other's internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence. In the next year, the prime ministers of China and India issued a statement in New Delhi in which the five principles of peaceful coexistence were officially established. They pointed out that "those principles are applicable not only to relations between countries but also to the international relations in general and will form a solid foundation for peace and security". In the same year, those principles were once again confirmed in the joint statement issued by the prime ministers of China and Burma. The principles were widely recognized by the participating countries in the Bandung conference. They have become the basic principles of handling international relations which are widely accepted by the international community and the foundation of China's independent foreign policy of peace. So far, they are still the norms guiding countries to handle relations with each other. The international situation is fluctuating, but the five principles of peaceful coexistence have withstood the test, shown strong vitality and made outstanding contributions to promoting world peace.
The diplomatic thinking of Zhou Enlai is the result of the collective wisdom of the first generation of the central leadership, an important component of Mao Zedong thought and the theoretical basis and source of power of the Chinese diplomacy. After launching reform and opening up, comrade Deng Xiaoping, reviewing the development of the international situation and grasping the characteristics of the times, carried forward Zhou Enlai's diplomatic thought, established our international strategy and diplomatic route in the new era and opened a new stage of China's diplomatic work. After the 4th Plenary Session of the 13th CPC Central Committee, the third generation of Party leadership with comrade Jiang Zemin at the core, in response to the changes of international situation, raised a series of diplomatic policies and international strategic thinking which, as a key part of the important thought of Three Represents, have promoted further victory of the Chinese diplomacy.
Entering the new century, the Party Central Committee under the leadership of General Secretary Hu Jintao continues implementing and developing Zhou Enlai's diplomatic thinking, constantly enriches and improves the socialist diplomatic theories with Chinese characteristics and puts forward such diplomatic thoughts as "scientific development, harmonious world, mutual benefit and win-win results" which are consistent with Zhou Enlai's diplomatic thinking and have become the important guidance on China's contemporary diplomatic practices.
At present, peace, development and cooperation remain the main theme of the times. China's diplomatic work has also come to a new historical starting point. We must advance with the times, forge ahead and dig deeper the rich connotation of Zhou Enlai's diplomatic thinking in the new epoch. We must deeply understand his diplomatic thinking, gain new sights through reviewing it again and again and take nutrients from it so as to improve our ability of handling foreign affairs and challenges under new circumstances and create a sound external environment for us to build a well-off society in an all-round manner.
Finally, I'd like to stress that Zhou Enlai's diplomatic thinking, from content to practices, shows his infinite love and loyalty to the motherland and reflects the upbringing and influence of the traditional Chinese culture. He started pursuing truth and exploring the road of revitalizing the Chinese nation from a young age. I believe that students of Nankai Middle School will not forget the quote "study for the rise of China". While studying at Nankai Middle School, Premier Zhou further developed his patriotism. "Haze is accumulating in the green countryside and rivals fight for the Central Plains." He wrote the poem Chun Ri Ou Cheng when he was only 16, and his concern for the fate of the country and the people was already very clear. Before he went to Japan to study in 1917, he wrote another poem "I'm going to sail to the east and study there. I will work extremely hard. I'll be a hero even if I fail." In Japan, he was stilled concerned about the motherland and explored truth ceaselessly. Later, he came back and participated in the formation of Juewu She. He was devoted to the wave of mass patriotic movement and exploring the road of transforming the Chinese society. While working and studying in Europe, he further strengthened the belief in communism and became a firm communist.
Premier Zhou has a refined and elegant diplomatic style which is admired worldwide. Many foreign researchers on his diplomatic thinking believe that his diplomatic style reflects the gentleman temperament of being friendly, honest, humble, elegant and considerate and emphasizing credit of politicians of ancient civilization. Talking about Premier Zhou, Former US President Richard Nixon said that "he shows great charm and steadiness through elegant manners and firm yet relaxed posture" and "he treats others with enthusiasm and utter frankness. He is very dignified yet extremely sincere". Premier Zhou's wisdom and talent, diligence and acumen, sincerity and magnanimousness manifested in the rapidly changing diplomatic struggles and his extraordinary ability and diplomatic skills of handling international affairs and solving international problems in a peaceful and calm manner are always the role model to be learned by diplomatic staffs. His style of treating people equally and honestly, making friends widely and sincerely, persuading people through reasoning and honoring commitment has great realistic significance to the Chinese diplomats.
Dear students, coming to Nankai Middle School, I have a common teacher and fellow student with you – Zhou Enlai. Premier Zhou was once in the same campus seeking knowledge and learning skills as you and I am fortunate enough to be part of the diplomatic undertaking of New China initiated by him. I believe that the name of Zhou Enlai, no matter to me or to you, is more than just a symbol. It is the role model we need to learn throughout our life.
I also hope that in this campus where Premier Zhou once studied students can motivate yourself with Premier Zhou's spirit and thinking, learn his infinite loyalty and love to the motherland, indomitable tenacity of pursuing truth, spirit of seeking truth from facts and forging ahead, down-to-earth and diligent working style, serious and responsible attitude towards life, character of honoring commitment, utter sincerity, noble character of modesty and prudence, integrity and honesty. Those virtues of Premier Zhou are critically important for anybody to grow up. I believe that studying in this campus you will be encouraged by Zhou Enlai spirit, abide by the school motto of possessing both integrity and ability and progressing everyday, take Premier Zhou as your role model and grown into successors who have the ambitions, values and contributions to the Party, the nation and the society.
Wish all the students health, happiness and great schooling achievements.