The Asian-African Conference
The Asian-African Conference, also known as the Bandung Conference, was held in Bandung, Indonesia from 18 to 24 April, 1955. In April 1954, the Indonesian Government proposed the convocation of an Asian-African conference. In December of the same year, the five Prime Ministers of Burma, Ceylon(Sri Lanka), India, Indonesia and Pakistan held a conference in Bogor, Indonesia and reached an agreement on convening an Asian-African conference and decided that the conference would be jointly proposed by the five countries. The conference was attended by 29 Asian and African countries besides the five countries mentioned above, namely, Afghanistan, Cambodia, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, the Gold Coast (Ghana), Iran, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, Laos, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Nepal, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, the Vietnam Democratic Republic, South Vietnam (later reunified with the Democratic Republic of Vietnam) and Yemen (Republic of Yemen). The Conference was chaired by Indonesian Prime Minister Ali Sastroamidjojo and Indonesian President Sukarno made an opening address entitled ?Let a New Asia and a New Africa be Born?. After two days of plenary sessions, the conference was divided into three committees, namely political, economic and cultural. And they deliberated behind closed door for five days during which they discussed such issues as national sovereignty, racism, nationalism and struggles against colonialism, world peace and economic and cultural cooperation among the participating countries. The conference reached consensus on the mutual interests and some issues of major concern to the Asian African countries and a ?Final Communiqué? was adopted the contents of which included economic cooperation, cultural cooperation, human rights and self-determination, the issue of people in dependent countries, other issues, promotion of world peace and cooperation as well as the adoption of the Declaration on Promotion of World Peace and Cooperation and listed ten principles in handling international relations. The spirit of unity of the Asian and African people, opposing imperialism and colonialism, struggle for the defense of national independence and world peace and the promotion of friendship among the peoples as demonstrated at the Conference is known as the ?Bandung Spirit?. The Conference enhanced the unity and cooperation among the Asian and African countries, inspired the people in the colonies to struggle for national liberation and played a significant role in promoting the anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist struggle of the Asian and African people and in consolidating their unity.
The Asian-African Conference was held at a time when the post-war movement
for national liberation in Asia, Africa and Latin America was vigorously surging forward and when the forces of imperialism and colonialism were met with heavy blows. It was the first international conference held by Asian and African countries themselves without the participation of any Western colonial power. During the conference, the imperialists, especially the United States tried its utmost to create disputes by using some countries. The U.S. also sent a big contingent of so-called press delegation to Bandung in an attempt to manipulate the conference from outside and to split the conference. Supported by the United States, the Chiang Kai Shek clique plotted a political scheme of attempting to assassinate Premier Zhou Enlai and sabotage the conference. It created the mid-air explosion of the passenger plane ?Kashmir Princess? which shocked China and the world. As a result, three staff members of the Chinese delegation, five Chinese journalists and three foreign journalists were killed.
The Chinese Government had all along adopted a positive attitude of supporting the Asian-African Conference. The Chinese Delegation to the Conference was led by Premier and Foreign Minister Zhou Enlai and members of the delegation were composed of Vice-Premier Chen Yi, Minister of Foreign Trade Ye Jizhuang, Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Hanfu and Chinese Ambassador to Indonesia Huang Zhen. The advisors to the delegation were Liao Chengzhi, Qiao Guanhua, Chen Jiakang, Huang Hua etc.. On the basis of the analysis of the then prevailing situation and in view of the complexity of the participating states, the Chinese Delegation decided that China?s general policy in attending the conference was to expand the united front for peace, to promote the national independence movement, to create conditions for the establishment and enhancement of relations between China and some other Asian and African countries and to make the conference a success. When the Chinese Delegation arrived at Bandung, Premier Zhou Enlai made a statement at the airport in which he underlined that the Chinese Delegation is attending the conference with a strong desire for peace and friendship and expressed the conviction that the conference will certainly surmount all sorts of sabotages and obstacles and be completely successful. During the first two days of sessions at which the delegates made general statements, delegates from some countries attacked communism as ?dictatorial? and ?neo-colonialism? in the presence of the Chinese Delegation and even suspected China of subversive activities against its neighboring countries. Faced with the danger of the Conference being sidetracked, Premier Zhou Enlai changed his mind. Instead of delivering the prepared speech himself, he had it distributed as a written statement and made a supplementary speech off the cuff. He clearly stated: The Chinese Delegation has come here to seek unity and not to quarrel, to seek common ground and not to create divergences. There exists common ground among the Asian and African countries the basis of which is that the overwhelming Asian and African countries and their peoples have suffered and are still suffering from the calamities of colonialism. All the Asian and African countries gained their independence from colonialist rule whether these countries are led by the communist or nationalists. We should seek to understand each other and respect each other, sympathize with and support one another and the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-Existence may completely serve as a basis for us to establish relations of friendship and cooperation and good neighborliness. Premier Zhou?s speech won widespread acclaim among the delegates of the participating countries. During the Conference, the Chinese Delegation advocated the principle of seeking common ground while putting aside difference which not only won the support of overwhelming number of delegates but also laid the ground for the success of the Conference. At the same time, the Chinese Delegation entered into extensive contact with delegates of many countries, conducted frequent consultations and close cooperation with them and contributed positively to smooth progress and success of the Conference.