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Interview: Bandung Spirit still plays positive role in building int’l order: Cambodian FM

Xue Lei, Li Hong / Xinhua Share:

PHNOM PENH, April 20 (Xinhua) — The spirit of the 1955 Asian- African Conference, also known as the Bandung Conference, remains relevant and has played a positive role in building a more equitable and rational international political and economic order, said Cambodian deputy prime minister and foreign minister Hor Namhong.

 In a written interview with Xinhua ahead of the 60th anniversary of the Bandung Conference on April 24 in Bandung, Indonesia, Hor Namhong said the Bandung Principles, which incorporated the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, were adopted at the 1955 Asian-African Conference and subsequently endorsed at the 1961 Non-Aligned Movement Summit, of which late Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk was one of the founders.

“Although the Bandung Principles were established in the Cold War era, I am of the view that it remains as relevant as ever with its growing significance and roles in today’s critical juncture,” Hor Namhong said.

“The evolution of international relations in the past six decades proves that the Bandung Spirit has not only become open and inclusive principles of international law, but embodies the values of sovereignty, justice, democracy and rule of law.”

In 1955, leaders and representatives from 29 Asian and African countries, most of them newly independent, gathered in Bandung to discuss issues to promote economic and cultural cooperation and to oppose colonialism.

 The conference adopted a final communique containing ten principles, which underlined respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations and recognition of the equality of all races and the equality of all nations.

“The Bandung Spirit has played a positive role in building a more equitable and rational international political and economic order, by rejecting the law of the jungle in which the strong bullies the weak,” the Cambodian deputy prime minister said.

 It also provided a new approach to peacefully resolving historical issues and international disputes, he said, adding that furthermore, the Bandung Spirit rejected the monopolization of international affairs by providing an important avenue for developing countries to enhance solidarity, cooperation and strength among them.

“I hold the view that the Bandung Principles as enshrined in the final communique of the 1955 Asian-African Conference remain solid, pertinent and effective as a cardinal foundation for inter- state relations among all countries, and continue to provide guidance to resolve peacefully global issues of common concern,” he said.

The Bandung Spirit contributes to the resolution of territorial conflicts, underlines the sovereign rights to determine a country’ s own model of development, and boost international solidarity to create a just and equitable economic and political order.

“As inequality is soaring in the world today, with the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, the Bandung Spirit underlines the promotion of mutual interests and cooperation through South-South cooperation to bolster resilience on environment, economic and social shocks, and through North-South cooperation to push developed countries to honor their commitments to helping developing countries realize their development goals,” he said.

“Furthermore, with the emerging challenges of terrorism and extremism, the ten principles of the Bandung Conference have become even more relevant through the revival of unity and solidarity in addressing the said challenges and the promotion of a culture of peace, tolerance and respect,” he said.


 Hor Namhong said that in the past two decades, Asia and Africa have developed rapidly, marked by robust and positive development as well as dynamic transformation in political, economic and socio- cultural sectors. At the same time, the two regions encountered various respective external and internal challenges.

“Therefore, the 60th anniversary of the Asian-African Conference will indeed provide a significant opportunity for the two regions’ leaders to explore approaches and ways to carry forward the Bandung Spirit in order to build a new type of international relations in the new era and a better world of win- win cooperation,” he said.

 On the political front, he said, the two regions could join hands to promote a safer and more secure world, by way of peaceful settlement of disputes, peacekeeping networks, disarmament and the fight against terrorism and transnational organized crimes, and to build a just and equitable world order as well as global democratic governance, among others, through the broader reform of the United Nations and its principal organs.

On the economic front, the dynamic regions of Asia and Africa represent 75 percent of the world’s population and 30 percent of the global GDP. However, intra-regional trade between Asian and African countries has yet to reach its full potential.

“Therefore, although the two regions may have pursued divergent paths to growth, they can learn from each other’s approach and success through South-South cooperation in order to enlarge the markets, improve regional connectivity, create a conducive business environment, revitalize agriculture for better food security, and strengthen cooperation for pandemics and climate change,” he said.

In addition, Asian-African partnership will help push for a rule-based, non-discriminatory, open and inclusive multilateral trading system as embodied in the World Trade Organization, the deputy prime minister added.
“In my personal view, China’s initiatives, including the ‘Belt and Road,’ the BRICS Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, help reinforce the Bandung Spirit in three ways,” Hor Namhong said.

 First, it will help not only mobilize resources for sustainable projects, but also boost a win-win condition for development and cooperation among the developing countries through investment projects in networks of regional infrastructures for energy supply, connectivity, regional economic integration, cross-border trade and financial flows from Asia to Africa, from the Middle East to Europe, and through skills transfer as well as job creation for the locals.

 Secondly, the moves reaffirm the importance of respect for sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs of other countries. The loans to be provided by the new financial systems will have neither strings attached nor dictation of foreign values before the developing countries can qualify for the development funds.

Thirdly, the creation of the said institutions will help promote the concept of equality among all nations through rule- based multilateralism as developing countries are not given enough say and representation in the current international order.

“I believe that the recent activities do not seek to challenge the world order, but to complement that order due to the gap in the supply and demand for infrastructure spending,” he said.


 According to Hor Namhong, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen will take part in the 60th anniversary of the Bandung Conference, which will also be attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping, among others.

 He recalled that the Sino-Cambodian relations were cultivated and nurtured by late Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk and late Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai, who met in Bandung in 1955.

 This has laid a solid foundation for long-standing, stable and closer development of relations between the two countries in all fields. The two countries reached a comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation in December 2010.

“The current leaders of the two countries have met several times on other occasions to discuss issues of common interests. However, the upcoming meeting in Bandung will present a new opportunity for them to greatly cherish the past leaders’ memory, to reaffirm the two countries’ firm commitment to the Bandung Principles in the context of the 60th anniversary of the Asian- African partnership, and to further deepen bilateral relations and expand productive cooperation for the best interests of the two respective peoples,” he said.

“I believe that Cambodia-China relations will be further strengthened in the years to come based on the principles of mutual benefits, respect for sovereignty, equality and non- interference, thus contributing to the development and prosperity of Cambodia as well as the region,” Hor Namhong said.

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