BUILDING PEACE IN SOUTHEAST ASIA

 

1)  The responsibility for building peace in the modern world rests primarily with the great powers. An open clash between any two great powers anywhere will bring about the gravest peril to the whole world. Nowhere is this danger more evident or acute than in Southeast Asia, a battlefield for more than a decade now. The involvements, direct and indirect, of the U.S. China, and others in this region have been dangerous, but so far they have been contained within perilous bounds. The long-drawn conflict has caused widespread and profound miseries to millions of human beings, including those outside the region. The situation there still represents the gravest threat to world peace.

2)  Political settlement in Southeast Asia is a first prerequisite for world peace. Preventive and constructive measures are required of the U.S. and China and of nations within the region as well.

3)  For preventive measures, it is necessary to revive the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence, enunciated in 1954 by Nehru and Chou-En-Lai, subsequently adopted and expanded by the Bandung Conference in 1955. The Five Principles are commonly known as “Pancasila”. They are:

       (i) Respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all  nations

       (ii) Refraining from acts or threats of aggression or the use of force against territorial integrity or political independence of any country;

       (iii) Abstaining from intervention or interference in the internal affairs of any country;

       (iv) Recognizing the equality of all races and nations, large and small, and promoting mutual interest and co-operation;

       (v) Settling all international disputes by peaceful means.

4)  These five principles should be implemented at once by all nations concerned. In particular, the U.S. and China, and other great powers, should:

       (a) speedily withdraw all military personnel from all the countries in Southeast Asia;

       (b) abstain from organizing, maintaining or supporting subversive activities in all countries of the region;

       (c) abstain from interfering in the internal political affairs of nations in the area.

5)  The problems of the overseas Chinese and dual nationality are perennial and potential sources of conflict within and between nations. These problems can be solved to some extent by China; but the Southeast Asian nations concerned must also adopt wise and responsible policies and measures to solve them within their national boundaries. These problems are the legacy from the old days; that is true. But the urgency is now greater than ever before.

In 1955, a Sino-Indonesian agreement provided for free choice of one nationality for all persons over 18. This was a step in the right direction; but it has proved to be inadequate. There has been no provision, nor efforts, for assimilating of overseas Chinese into host societies.

In Indonesia and Cambodia, Chou-En-Lai expressed the hope that overseas Chinese, having made their choice, would “increase their sense of responsibility toward the country whose nationality they have chosen.” Loyalty to the host country where they live and earn their livelihood should be urged.

6)  After so much destruction and misery for more than a decade, the social and economic conditions of Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia need to be rehabilitated, reconstructed, and developed. Financial and technical help from the great powers are required.

Even for other countries in the region, continued and speedy development necessitates external assistance.

This is the constructive side of the great powers’ responsibilities. Such assistance, however, must be free from political or other conditions and should be the subject of bilateral agreement based on freedom of choice for donor and recipient.

7)  In the long run, social and economic viability of Southeast Asian nations, and peace among them, depend on the degree of cooperation within the region. The great powers can ensure lasting peace in this critical subcontinent with encouragement and support for closer regional collaboration.

8)  It must be emphasized that what is expected from the great powers is only part of the necessary conditions for peace in Southeast Asia. For peaceful coexistence, rehabilitation, the solution to dual nationality, development and closer co-operation, the nations in the region will have much to do for and among themselves.

 

Paper prepared for the Third National Convention of the Fund for Peace,

New York, October 1971.