October 24, 1964
Transcript of Conversation between Zhou Enlai and Philippine's Journalists' Delegation
This document was made possible with support from Chun & Jane Chiu Family Foundation
WE LOOK FORWARD TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF SINO-PHILIPPINE RELATIONS
(October 24, 1964)
Premier Zhou Enlai (hereafter shortened to Zhou): I’m delighted to meet with you. Our two countries are both Asian; we both participated in the Bandung Conference in 1955, and both our countries achieved independence and liberation after World War II. At that conference, delegations of our two countries met for the first time since independence and liberation. After participating in the Bandung Conference, we have often wondered, how can we advance and develop the relationship between our two countries. Of course, on our side there are no difficulties, but on your side there do remain some difficulties.
One sort of difficulty is now gradually being overcome. Both sides are members of alliances, however, alliances that were, at a certain time, quite definitely opposed to each other. Our country is a member of the socialist camp, with a treaty of mutual alliance and friendship with the Soviet Union; the Philippines is a member of the Southeast Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO), which is an organization led by the United States and hostile towards China. Because of this, China and the Philippines stand on opposite sides. But most recently, the circumstances and nature of these allied countries have changed, and in fact there are some big changes. You all are journalists, so you are probably clear about this.
Take SEATO, for instance. Pakistan is one of its members. However, ever since Pakistan recognized China a long time ago, it has always been friendly to China, and China has always treated Pakistan in a friendly manner. Especially in recent years, the friendship between the two countries has developed significantly. Despite being members of two mutually opposed alliances, our two countries have not been opposed to each other and unfriendly. On the contrary, the friendship between the two countries has become even closer.
As each one of you know, India is a non-aligned nation; Sino-Indian relations initially were very good, but in recent years they have become relatively tense. By tense relations I mean the political aspects. As for the situation on the border, it in fact has already eased, so there’s no tension there.
From the examples of these two countries you can see, the situation regarding alliance memberships has already changed tremendously.
From what I just mentioned, it’s not only possible to improve Sino-Philippine relations, but they must be improved, because there is basically no conflict of interest between our two countries. Both our countries have separately achieved independence and liberation following the Second World War, and now are still fighting to achieve complete independence. If a country cannot be fully independent economically, it cannot be fully independent politically. What I mean by fully independent economically does not exclude economic exchanges and trade relations, which are necessary in the world today, and Afro-Asian countries like us in particular should be carrying out economic cooperation and trade relations, just as long no one infringes on any other country’s sovereignty. Even though our two countries have no diplomatic relations, that ought not prevent the development of bilateral relations. Ever since the Bandung conference, we have wished for the development of the relations between our two countries. We are very happy that Mr. [Carlos] Romulo could attend the Preparatory Conference for the Second Afro-Asian Conference, and the second meeting he had with [Foreign Minister] Chen Yi in Jakarta provided an opportunity to turn a new page in the history of the two countries’ relationship. Since then, two delegations of journalists have visited China one after another. From what I’ve heard, after the first group of Philippine journalists returned to their country, they wrote objective and friendly reports about China. The visits to China of these two groups of journalists, and their objective and friendly reporting, have provided a favorable beginning to the development of bilateral relations going forward.
Another difficulty is that the Philippines continues to maintain diplomatic relations with the Chiang Kai-shek [Jiang Jieshi] clique on Taiwan. However, we believe this shouldn’t hinder the establishment and development of our bilateral relations. For example, Japan also maintains diplomatic relations with the Chiang Kai-shek clique on Taiwan, but that has not prevented it from establishing and developing general reciprocal relations with China. In recent years, Sino-Japanese people-to-people exchanges have increased in frequency. Among Asian countries, Japan is the one with the most frequent contacts with China. We all know that Japan is a defeated nation, and in the past was an imperialist, militarist nation, a nation that had invaded other foreign countries. Both the Philippines and China were invaded by Japan. Now Japan is occupied by the U.S. military, and some of its territory has been taken over by the U.S., and it has also signed the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty. Under such circumstances, Japan is nevertheless still able to develop friendly relations with us, in particular ever-increasing friendly people-to-people exchanges. This is to say, despite the complicated circumstances, there are still things that can be done. Japan, with its complicated circumstances, has been able to overcome a great deal of difficulties in order to develop relations with China. This is something we are fully in support of.
Of course, Japan has been under enormous pressure from the United States regarding its development of relations with China. Because of this, for now the Japanese government and Chinese government cannot develop official contacts, but in practice there are already semi-official contacts.
If Japan can do this, then how about the Philippines? As I just said, we are both countries who obtained their independence and liberation after the Second World War. The Philippine and Chinese people both want friendly exchanges. The Philippines’ objective conditions are better than Japan’s. Therefore, ever since the Bandung Conference, we have been anticipating the development of our bilateral relations, starting with the development of friendly bilateral people-to-people exchanges.
Precisely because of an example such as Japan, we believe that Sino-Philippine relations, especially friendly bilateral people-to-people relations, will ultimately develop successfully.
Chinese journalists have not, as yet, had the opportunity to visit the Philippines, however, Philippine journalists like you are visiting our country first, initiating friendly exchanges between our countries. This is something worth celebrating. At the same time, I would like you to convey our best regards to the Philippine people, wishing in advance for the arrival of a new era in the development of our bilateral relations.
Delegation leader [Max] Soliven* (hereafter shortened to Soliven): I’d like to invite Mr. Santos, editor at the Philippine News Agency, to ask a question.
Santos: I’d like to ask the Premier to tell us what he thinks about the establishment of U.S. military bases in the Philippines.
Zhou: Of course we are not happy about the military bases that the United States has established in the Philippines.
The U.S. government has declared that its military bases in the Philippines are a crucial part of the encirclement strategy directed at China. But we don’t see it quite like that. We believe that the American military bases in the Philippines were primarily established to use against the Philippine people; under the pretense of protecting the Philippines, they are an invasion of the sovereignty of the Philippines, increasing the burden on the Philippine people, wounding the independence of the Philippines and the self-esteem of its people. It goes without saying that these actions of the United States will surely have an effect on the independence of Philippine policy. From our east to our west, everywhere there are places with American bases, they are all in the same situation. Everywhere in the entire world where the U.S. has established military bases likewise has the same situation.
Maybe the U.S. has given the Philippines the idea that once China has become powerful it will be a threat to the Philippines. There is absolutely no basis for such a claim. As I have just said, there is no fundamental conflict of interests between China and the Philippines, so why would China be a threat to the Philippines? Even before the Bandung Conference we had announced that countries with different social systems could peacefully coexist on the basis of the Five Principles [of Peaceful Coexistence]. These Five Principles are: mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful co-existence. China has already made treaties of mutual friendship and non-aggression based on these five principles with many Afro-Asian countries; these principles are not merely written words in the text of the treaty, but are evident in our actual behavior. I can give you examples to illustrate this, one being our relations with Burma, another is our relations with Nepal. Both of these countries share a border with us. We not only signed treaties of mutual friendship and non-aggression with these two countries, we also resolved our border issues, and signed border [delimiting] agreements. Burmese government leaders, from past ones like U Nu and U Barui to the current President Ne Win, all have always had good relations with us despite the fact there is an ongoing civil war in that country. That is to say, the governing authorities are opposed to its own country’s Communist Party, along with other armed groups. But this has never prevented us from having friendly bilateral exchanges. The Communist Party in Nepal isn’t the governing party, and exists in a semi-legal status. The King personally has governing authority in Nepal, but this has not prevented us from having friendly bilateral exchanges. Countries with which we share borders are friendly towards us, have no concerns, since they don’t consider us to be a threat. So, countries like the Philippines, with which we don’t have a common border, can, for the same reasons, develop bilateral friendly relations. We have no need to threaten or invade the Philippines. Because we are a socialist country, our social system and our faith would never permit us to threaten or invade other countries.
Soliven: There is a delicate question, which I’d like to ask the Premier to address; there are some Filipinos who fear that China could use friendly exchanges to export revolution, supporting the local Communist Party?
Zhou: Revolution cannot be exported: we have always held firmly to this principle. Making revolution must rely on the country’s people themselves. Whatever system the majority of people choose will be implemented in that country. This cannot be decided by the will of the people from another country. Although people from every country desire progress in the world, but that is only a nice wish, and the way the people of each country will carry out progress is something that these very people must choose themselves. The examples I have just given, of Burma and Nepal, should be sufficient to explain this issue.
* Max Soliven (1929-2006), Philippine journalist and newspaper publisher. NFI on Santos.
Premier Zhou and Philippine journalists' discuss obstacles to establishing friendly Sino-Philippine relations. One obstacle is that Philippines is part of the U.S. led alliance camp in Asia. Zhou believes that despite China and Philippine being part of two different camps, this should not prevent China and the Philippines from establishing bilateral relations. The second obstacle is that thee Philippines still maintains diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Zhou also says that Philippines-Taiwan relations should not prevent the Philippines from establishing relations with the mainland. Reporters ask for Zhou's perspective on U.S. military deployment in Philippines and Filipino people's fear that China might use friendly Sino-Philippines relations to incite communist revolution in their country.
The History and Public Policy Program welcomes reuse of Digital Archive materials for research and educational purposes. Some documents may be subject to copyright, which is retained by the rights holders in accordance with US and international copyright laws. When possible, rights holders have been contacted for permission to reproduce their materials.
To enquire about this document's rights status or request permission for commercial use, please contact the History and Public Policy Program at [email protected].