Carry Forward the Bandung Spirit for Asian and African Revitalization — In Commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the Asian-African Conference

Wang Wenbin Deputy Director General of the Policy Planning Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China
Sixty years ago, at the initiative of Indonesia, Pakistan, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), India and Burma, leaders of 29 Asian and African countries, Indonesian President Sukarno and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai included, successfully convened the world-shaking Asian-African Conference in Bandung, Indonesia after braving numerous obstacles and obstructions, thus writing a splendid page in the annals of Asian and African struggles for national independence and world peace. As the first international gathering under the auspices of Asian and African countries, the Asian-African Conference was the symbol of popular awakening of Asian and African people that made history in international relations. In its Final Communiqué, the Conference put forth the ten principles for promoting world peace and friendly cooperation in state-to-state relations, extending and developing the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence jointly initiated by China, India and Burma, demonstrating the desire of Asian and African countries for solidarity, friendship and cooperation and giving birth to the world-renowned Bandung Spirit.
Over the past 60 years since the Conference, guided and galvanized by the Bandung Spirit, the national liberation movement has swept across Asia, Africa and Latin America, leading to the collapse of the centuries-old system of colonialism and racial segregation, bringing the developing countries onto the world stage as a key emerging player, giving a strong boost to the process of South-South cooperation, and vigorously promoting peace, development and progress in the world.
Sixty years after the Conference, Asia and Africa have taken on earth-shaking changes and accomplished deeds of historic proportions in their solidarity and cooperation. Together, the two continents boast three quarters of the world’s population, over a half of the UN membership, and more than one third of global economic aggregate. They have turned themselves from once a poor and backward region into one that is robust in development and rich in growth potential. Regional and sub-regional cooperation in Asia and Africa is thriving, dialogue and coordination among countries are growing in strength, and their stature and roles in international affairs are steadily rising. Asia and Africa, the two important cradles of human civilizations, are now making confident strides on the road towards revitalization.
At present, the international landscape is undergoing a profound and complex transformation, with world multipolarization and economic globalization going in greater depth, cultural diversity and IT application making steady progress, interaction and interdependence among countries growing closer, and the overall strength of the emerging markets and developing countries increasing with each passing day. Striving for peace, development and cooperation is the common aspiration of the world’s people, which is also an irresistible trend of history.
On the other hand, a host of unjust and unreasonable phenomena, as well as destabilizing and uncertain factors still exist in international relations. Acts of violating other countries’ sovereignty and interfering in their internal affairs are committed from time to time. North-South gap remains wide. Hotspot issues and local conflicts keep cropping up. Such global challenges as climate change, terrorism, food security and security of energy and resources are on the steady increase. There is still a long way to go before the lofty goal of peaceful co-existence and friendly cooperation among all countries can be achieved.
The Bandung Spirit, given the new circumstances, retains its powerful vitality. Asian and African countries, while continuing to carry forward the Bandung Spirit, should work to enrich it with new elements of the changing times, jointly map out the new visions of Asian-African revitalization, jointly create new situations for South-South cooperation, and jointly build a better world featuring mutually beneficial cooperation, so as to bring greater benefits to Asian and African people and people in the rest of the world.
— We need to adhere to the principles of equality and mutual respect. Countries, big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, are all equal members of the international community, and no country shall have its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity violated. All must respect all the independent choices made by a country for social system and development path and each must respect the other’s core interests and major concerns.
The affairs of Asian and African countries should be managed by their respective peoples, while international affairs by the people of all countries through equal-footed consultations. No country shall impose its wills on others, nor does it have the right to subvert the legitimate government of another country. Countries should work together to promote democracy and rule of law in international relations, increase the representation and voice of developing countries in international systems, and bathe Asia, Africa and the rest of the world in the light of equality, fairness and justice.
— We need to adhere to the principles of mutual benefit and common development. Now standing at a critical juncture of development, Asian and African countries should step up cooperation aimed at gains bigger than their combined aggregate, and work closely together to drive Asian-African revitalization with greater power.
It is necessary for Asians and African countries to align their development strategies, enhance their infrastructure connectivity, promote their industrial complementarity, and nurture such new cooperation highlights as green energy, environmental protection and e-commerce. In this way, we can translate our economic complementarity into a mutually-reinforcing drive for development, constantly expanding our converging interests and bringing about a new prospect for Asian-African development.
It is necessary for Asian and African countries to deepen cooperation at the regional level, make a good use of existing regional and sub-regional cooperation mechanisms, establish new cooperation platforms as may be needed, advance trade and investment liberalization and facilitation and enhance the scope of practical cooperation in all areas, thus building a new architecture of wide-ranging, multi-leveled and all-dimensional Asian-African cooperation.
It is necessary for Asian and African countries to strengthen international coordination, jointly uphold and promote an open world economy, build a fair, equitable, inclusive and rule-based international financial system, guide the negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda to focus more on the difficulties and challenges facing the developing countries, especially African countries and the least developed countries, thus creating an international environment more favorable to faster development of developing countries.
— We need to adhere to the principle of sharing weal and woe, and standing ready to come to each other’s aid. Asian and African countries fought side by side to win and safeguard national independence, and have lately worked together to resist the Indian Ocean tsunami and Ebola outbreak. Asian and African countries are good brothers and good partners, come rain or shine. With the international community marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, Asian and African countries need to take history as a mirror and redouble efforts to usher in a better future with harmonious co-existence among themselves and enduring peace and stability in the regions.
It is necessary for us to abandon the outdated Cold War mentality and zero-sum game, champion the new vision for common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, and work together to maintain peace and stability at regional and global levels. The purposes and principles of the UN Charter must be observed, and the authority of the UN and its Security Council upheld. When it comes to regional hotspots and interstate differences and disputes, it is necessary to settle them peacefully and politically, building strategic mutual trust through candid and in-depth dialogue and communication, reducing mutual suspicions to allow for mutual understanding and mutual accommodation, and doing everything possible to avoid conflict and confrontation. We must pool our resources to address the rising threats in the non-traditional security area, such as terrorism, cyber security, climate change and public health hazards, and find a new approach featuring security for all, of all and by all.
 — We need to seek common ground while shelving differences, while staying open and inclusive. With over 100 countries speaking in thousands of different tones, Asia and Africa are known to be highly diverse in history, culture, social system and values which, combined, present a colorful tapestry of civilizations. Cultural diversity is a priceless asset for the development and progress of Asian and African countries, rather than being seen as a hindrance to their exchanges and cooperation. At the Asian-African Conference, Premier Zhou Enlai vigorously called for seeking common ground while shelving differences, when he said that the Chinese Delegation had come here to seek unity and not to quarrel and to seek common ground and not to create divergence. It is these remarks that contributed significantly to the success of the Conference. Today, it is all the more necessary for Asian and African countries to rise above their differences in ethnicity, religion and social system on the specific disputes and frictions they might have, cooperate seriously towards the common goal of Asian and African revitalization, forge a new type of Asian-African strategic partnership, learn from each other’s strengths through exchanges and make common progress by seeking common ground while shelving differences.
South-South cooperation was preceded by Asian-African cooperation, which remains a crucial part of the international development cooperation, linking the South and the North and oriented towards the whole world. Asian and African countries need to enhance cooperation with countries in other regions with an open and inclusive attitude, building a community of common destiny, and contributing to enduring peace and common prosperity of the world. They need to deepen South-South cooperation by increasing dialogue and communication with the developing countries in Latin America and South Pacific, strengthening coordination and cooperation within the Non-Aligned Movement, the Group of 77 and other mechanisms, and making a better use of such cooperation platforms as the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) and BRICS. In this way, we can help developing countries in their large numbers to leverage their strengths, tap their development potential, build their capacity for independent development and safeguard their legitimate rights and interests, thus enabling the international order to develop in a more just and equitable direction. At the same time, they need to advance North-South dialogue and cooperation, prodding developed countries to earnestly deliver on their ODA commitments, step up support for developing countries and jointly address global challenges in an effort to build a new type of global development partnership that is more equal and balanced.
China is a staunch advocate and champion for the Bandung Spirit. For decades, China has worked with the developing countries in Asia and Africa closely together in maintaining sovereignty and promoting development and forged a profound friendship with them. Though the world’s second largest economy, China remains the world’s largest developing country. Always seeing its relations with developing countries as the key foundation of foreign policy, China is committed to peaceful development, to the independent foreign policy of peace, to the win-win strategy of opening up, and to a balanced approach to principles and interests. China is determined to develop friendly relations and cooperation with all countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence, while working with all of them to build a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation. No matter how developed it may someday become and how greatly changed the international landscape may be, China will always be a reliable friend and sincere partner to the developing countries.
China works unswervingly to maintain peace and stability in Asia and Africa. Having signed the treaty of good-neighborliness, friendship and cooperation with eight of its neighbors, China is ready to do the same with all its neighbors while setting up defense hotlines, conducting joint exercises, strengthening cooperation in such non-traditional security areas as counter-terrorism, disaster prevention and relief, cyber security and crackdown on cross-border crimes, and discussing with them the possibility of establishing a regional security cooperation framework. Strongly supporting Africa in its efforts to independently settle the problems within the region, China will earnestly implement the Initiative on China-Africa Cooperative Partnership for Peace and Security, and effectively help the African side to enhance its peacekeeping, counter-terrorism and anti-piracy capacity. China will provide even more public goods for appropriate solutions to the relevant hotspot issues.
China works unswervingly to push for Asian-African development and revitalization. To many Asian and African countries, China is their largest trading partner, largest export market and key source of investment. By comprehensively deepening reform and opening up still wider, China will not only boost its own development but deliver greater benefits to other countries in Asia, Africa and beyond. China will step up its production capacity cooperation with Asian and African countries, supporting African countries in their efforts to build high-speed rail, expressway and regional aviation networks, facilitating Africa’s industrialization process, and helping turn the resource advantage of Asian and African countries into the development edge in the interest of independent and sustainable development. China will materialize the zero-tariff treatment to 97% of tax items from all the least developed countries having diplomatic ties with China by the end of this year, and continue providing Asian and African developing countries with aid with no political conditions attached, aid that will gradually increase in size and put more emphasis on people’s well-being. The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, the recent initiative made by China, carries rich memories of many Asian and African peoples. The “Belt and Road” initiative calls for win-win cooperation, underpinned by such principles as extensive consultation, joint development and sharing of benefits. China is ready to work with all intended parties to advance the initiative, by making the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank a full success, taking full advantage of the Silk Road Fund and the role played by the initiative in facilitating the development of regions along the routes, and giving the overall Asian-African development a pair of strong wings.
China works unswervingly to promote Asian-African solidarity and collaboration. While dedicated to deepening dialogue and cooperation with the Association of South East Asian Nations, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, the African Union, League of Arab States, and other organizations, China supports Asian and African countries in seeking strength through unity and advancing the integration process. China will join the relevant countries in improving the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and other cooperation platforms, ensuring a successful convocation of the Sixth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation to be held later this year in South Africa, and putting forward even more measures that meet the needs of various parties, thus bringing the cooperation between China and other Asian and African countries to a new level. At the same time, China will continue to promote South-South cooperation and North-South cooperation, in an effort to secure peace and stability at regional and global levels and achieve common development and prosperity.
Asian-African cooperation, which has gone through 60 eventful years, is now standing at a new starting point, holding out great vitality and bright prospects. Let us carry forward the Bandung Spirit and pass it on to the future generations, making our dream of rejuvenated Asia and Africa come true, so as to bring more benefits to the people and contribute still more to the lofty cause of peace and development.

Wang Wenbin is Deputy Director General of the Policy Planning Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China.