Asian-African Summit: Peace, Unity tops agenda, China seeks to renew spirit of Bandung

The Chinese government is expected to illustrate its vision of China’s role as a leading developing country in support of peace and unity during the Asian-African Summit in Indonesia.

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Delegates the Asian-Africa Summit 2015, where His Excellency President Mugabe is in attendance (Getty Images)

Delegates the Asian-Africa Summit 2015, where His Excellency President Mugabe is in attendance (Getty Images)

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Chinese President Xi Jinping left for Indonesia late Tuesday to attend the summit aimed at commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Bandung Conference. He will talk about the future of Asia and Africa as some regions of the two continents still suffer from political turmoil, terrorism and poverty.

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Delegates from 109 Asian and African nations, 16 observer states, and 25 international organizations are invited to attend the 60th anniversary of the Asian-African Conference, set to be held in Indonesia’s capital Jakarta and Bandung, its third-largest city, from April 19 to April 24.

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The Asian-African Summit will be held from Wednesday to Friday and is part of the overall commemoration under the theme of “Strengthening South-South Cooperation to Promote World Peace and Prosperity.”

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South-South Cooperation refers to collaboration between developing economies – mostly in the southern hemisphere – in areas such as technology, resources and finance.

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The forum aims to bridge Asian and African nations to build stronger partnerships and to share experiences in economic development.

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It is also a good opportunity for China to cement its ties with other developing countries, analysts say.

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“The summit presents a good opportunity for China to reassure its stance, which is that China will continue to strive in the best interests of developing countries on the international stage,” Ji Qiufeng, a professor of international relations at Nanjing University, told the Global Times.

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The Chinese president’s attendance at the 60th anniversary of the Bandung Conference also has an important symbolic significance, as it was at the Bandung Conference that China’s then-premier Zhou Enlai made a profound impression on Asian countries that were suspicious of the newly established Communist state and later helped break the diplomatic blockade against China.

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Zhou also came up with the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence at the conference, which was later expanded into the Ten Principles of Bandung and the Bandung Spirit, a widely recognized set of norms for international relations.

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“I think Xi’s presence at the commemoration in Bandung sends a strong message to developing countries in Asia and Africa that 60 years on, China is still with them and China is not abandoning its friends,” Ji said.

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Before arriving in Indonesia, Xi embarked on his first State visit to Pakistan on Monday, bringing with him a $46 billion investment plan that aims at transforming the country into a regional economic hub. Pakistan was the first Islamic nation that established diplomatic ties with China and relations between the two countries have been described as “iron-clad.”

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The Chinese president is also expected to promote his initiatives of forging “Silk Road” land and sea ties and the establishment of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), analysts say.

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“The very success of the AIIB at the current stage demonstrates the principles of equality and mutual assistance as mentioned in the Bandung Spirit,” said Shen Dingli, a professor at the Institute of International Studies at Shanghai-based Fudan University.

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Yin Gang, a research fellow on West Asian Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that the “Belt and Road” initiative and the AIIB could serve as good models in Asian-African cooperation and touch off other projects.

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“Most of the proposals of collaboration at the 1955 conference failed to translate into concrete frameworks during the Cold War … Now that drastic and profound changes have taken place, projects like the AIIB and the ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative could help lead the way,” Yin told the Global Times.

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On Friday, leaders attending the summit will participate in the historical walk from the Savoy Homan Hotel to the Gedung Merdeka (Independence Building) in Bandung, the same route used by Asian and African leaders 60 years ago.

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The meeting will reportedly show moral support for Palestine, which is the only country that attended the 1955 Bandung Summit but is still unable to achieve independence.

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(By People’s Daily and Global Times)