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Home > Media Reviews > News Review Last Updated: 14:53 03/09/2007
News Review #291: April 22, 2005

Asia, Africa Summit in Jakarta Will Focus on Boosting Trade

Reviewed by Hitoshi URABE

Asia, Africa Summit in Jakarta Will Focus on Boosting Trade


It was in April of 1955 when 29 countries from Asia and Africa gathered in Bandung, Indonesia, for the first Asian-African Conference that led to establishment of the Non-Aligned Movement - a group of nations seeking a route other than joining either bloc of the US-Soviet Cold War. The leaders of the Third World at that time included Premier Chou En-lai (China), President Achmed Sukarno (Indonesia), and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru (India).

The Indonesian president Sukarno, who hosted the meeting, hailed the summit as "the first intercontinental conference of colored peoples in the history of mankind." This declaration raised concern among the established societies in Europe and North America at the time, in a climate of rising anti-colonial sentiment and the emergence of communist China. The world was clearly split between haves and have-nots, while haves themselves were split in coping with communism.

This year, the Asian-African Conference is being held in Jakarta by the ministers as well as by the leader of the states, dubbed as Summit 2005, followed by the Commemoration of the Golden Jubilee of the initial Conference of 1955, in Bandung.

The world has changed considerably since then. Some countries that attended the Conference in 1955, especially those in Asia, have since succeeded in pursuing high economic growth and prosperity. The original Conference was the first time Japan, after being defeated in WWII, attended a large-scale international conference.

Now the cold war, one of the key motives albeit in a negative manner for establishing this caucus, was overcome, and the gap of economic strength and living standards of peoples among the member states widening, it has become more difficult to sustain the concerted aim for the group of states each confronting issues of its own. While there is a consensus toward the need for the affluent countries to assist those states heavily in need, there are abundant frictions among member states, especially with their own neighbors, from the Eastern end of Asia to the Southern tip of Africa.

The theme of the Conference this year is "Invigorating the Bandung Spirit: Working towards a New Asian-African Strategic Partnership." Although simply reciting the words expressed in 1955 may not have much relevance now in a significantly different setup and entirely altered environment, the spirit of the original Conference should be maintained, for the rich countries to sense their responsibility toward the world, and the developing nations to sustain hope.

In this context, it is only too obvious of the need for Japan and China to cooperate and move on.

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