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 China's Principled Stand on Question Of Defining Aggression

China's Principled Stand on Question Of Defining Aggression

Source: Peking Review, No. 49, December 7, 1973
Transcribed for www.wengewang.org

  The Sixth Committee (Legal) of the United Nations General Assembly discussed the question of defining aggression from November 16 to 21. It adopted a draft resolution on November 23 which proposed that the Special Committee of the United Nations on the Question of Defining Aggression meat again next year with a view "to completing its task and to submitting to the General Assembly at the 29th session a draft definition of aggression.” The Chinese representative did not participate in the voting on the draft resolution.
In a speech at the meeting of the Sixth Committee on November 20, Chinese Representative Ling Ching expounded the Chinese Government's principled position on this question. Excerpts of his speech follow. Subheads are ours. — Ed.

BEFORE a discussion on the question of defining aggression takes place, it is necessary, first of all, to ascertain whence aggression and the threat of aggression mainly come at present. The historical facts of our time clearly show that contention for world hegemony is the main content of imperialist foreign policy and that imperialism is the source of contemporary wars of aggression. The essence of imperialism is plunder and exploitation.

Superpowers' Policies of Aggression and Expansion Threaten World Peace

     In order to grab markets for dumping their commodities, sources of raw material and places for exporting their capital, the imperialist powers regard the numerous small and medium-sized countries, particularly the developing countries, as their object of aggression and plunder.   Social-imperialism is "socialism in words, imperialism in deeds." It likewise wants to expand, plunder and exploit. Thus the rivalry between the superpowers for spheres of influence has become increasingly fierce. Since the end of World War II, the world has seen a continuous succession of aggressive wars of various kinds. Among quite a number of small and medium-sized countries, particularly the developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, some were subjected to barbarous attacks, some were wantonly bombed, some have been occupied by armed force, some were dismembered or divided, and some have seen their people driven from their homelands and remaining destitute and homeless for a long time. These facts have enabled people to realize ever more clearly that the superpowers' policies of aggression and expansion are the main source threatening world peace and the security of the people of various countries at present.
     Back in the 1950s, the United Nations began discussing the question of defining aggression. Notwithstanding the ceaseless occurrence of acts of aggression in the world, the debate over many years brought no result at all owing to the obstruction and sabotage by imperialism. It is entirely justified for the numerous small and medium-sized countries, especially the Third World countries, with their just demand for safeguarding state sovereignty and opposing foreign aggression, to expect the United Nations to formulate some explicit and effective principles conducive to the exposure and condemnation of the aggressors politically and morally. The Chinese delegation expresses deep sympathy with and support for such a just demand and the serious efforts they have made to this end. But we cannot but point out that some people are trying hard to take advantage of the discussions on the Question of defining aggression to disguise themselves and hoodwink world opinion, so as to cover up their crimes of aggression and expansion in various parts of the world. What deserves attention is that the very initiator who proposed the reopening of the discussions on the question of defining aggression, while engaging in loud and big talk here, sent large numbers of troops for armed invasion and occupation of one of its allies by surprise attack. It has invented the theory of so-called "limited sovereignty" and openly declared that it would never give up its "right" to invade its allies at any lime, an obvious aggressor nevertheless is decked out as "a hero fighting against aggression." It probably imagines that by doing so it can pull the wool over the eyes of the world's people.   But this can only be wishful thinking.

All That Is Necessary Is to Respect Objective Facts

     With regard to the question of aggression or the victim of aggression, we maintain that any country which first uses aimed forces to encroach upon the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of other countries has naturally committed a crime of aggression, and a crime of aggression should be subjected to severe international condemnation and sanctions. At the same time, the people of various countries have the right to wage sacred wars of national liberation and revolutionary wars of self-defence: it is absolutely impermissible to mention in the same breath wars of aggression and wars against aggression, which are different in nature. As to how to distinguish and judge between acts of aggression and the victim of aggression, it is never a question of abstract legal concepts, but a question of respecting the objective facts. So long as one respects the objective facts, it is very easy to judge who is the aggressor and who is the victim of aggression. The superpowers are attempting to use abstract legal concepts to justify their distortion of the objective facts. This we absolutely cannot agree to.
     An aggressor certainly harbours aggressive intent and purpose. This is pure common sense. However, the intent and purpose are subjective elements, which are manifested by concrete acts of aggression. Consequently one must only take the objective acts as the basis for judging whether or not a certain action constitutes an aggression, including whether or not it has aggressive intent. Definitely not the other way round, i.e., to determine the existence of any act of aggression on the basis of whether it is committed with aggressive intent. Historical facts show that no aggressors will ever admit that they themselves have aggressive intent. On the contrary, they always try to cover up their crimes under various dignified signboards.
  At present, the one or two superpowers who have become increasingly isolated are daily seeking various kinds of camouflage and pretexts for blatantly carrying on their aggression and expansion. In order to contend with the other superpower for world hegemony, one superpower has reached out everywhere with grasping hands and wormed its way into every vulnerable place with a growing appetite for aggression and a constantly changing disguise. Glaring armed aggression against its ally is euphemistically described as "safeguarding the interests of the socialist community." Brazen dismemberment of a sovereign state is boasted of as "supporting national self-determination." While undisguisedly stationing a million troops on the borders of a neighbouring country for blatant military threats, it keeps on proclaiming that it "has no intention at all to make threats" and has even hypocritically proposed the non-use of force against each other, falsely accusing others of being "expansionist" and "warlike." It is the customary practice of the aggressors to resort to such sheer hypocrisy while harbouring sinister intentions. Therefore, if the aggressive intent is to be made a criterion for judging aggression, it would inevitably play into the hands of the aggressors who try to justify the aggressive acts, which they have committed or participated in, to mislead the public under the pretext of having no aggressive intent or purpose. A so-called definition of aggression formulated in this way would obviously be advantageous to the aggressors and incapable of protecting the interests of the victims of aggression.

A Major International Issue of What Is Right and What Is Wrong

  The question of judging and distinguishing between aggression and the victim of aggression is a major international issue of distinguishing between the right and the wrong. In the opinion of the Chinese delegation, when questions of this kind are discussed in the United Nations, an analysis should be made on the basis of the objective facts by all the member states, big or small, on an equal footing, so as to arrive at a correct and truthful conclusion. It is absolutely impermissible for the few imperialist powers to have the final say because the aggressors will never bring themselves to trial. The superpowers are arguing very hard that it is only up to the Security Council to finally decide whether a specific act constitutes an aggressive act. Obviously, what they always have in mind is their very veto power in the Security Council. In the event of their aggression against other countries, they can remain at large by merely casting a single negative vote. If such is the case, one may ask: What is the sense of the various provisions regarding the definition of aggression? Will not the whole draft become a mere scrap of paper?
  The Chinese Government and people firmly stand on the side of all the countries and peoples that are subjected to aggression, subversion, control, intervention and bullying and on the side of all the peace-loving and justice-upholding countries in a common endeavour to oppose wars of aggression and defend the cause of world peace.

Source: Peking Review, No. 49, December 7, 1973
Transcribed for www.wengewang.org


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