chapter  3
19 Pages

Constructing an alternative regional identity: Panchsheel and India–China diplomacy at the Asian–African Conference 1955

BySALLY PERCIVAL WOOD

Introduction The Asian-African Conference at Bandung in 1955 – often referred to as the Bandung Conference – was the first independently staged world event by and for the leaders of these two continents. Although it is seldom referred to as a ‘summit’, it really was the summit, or peak moment, of the Afro-Asian solidarity movement which had evolved from various freedom movements that had been gaining momentum since the late nineteenth century. European empires had determined to ‘divide and rule’, thus keeping their colonies apart and locked within spheres of European influence. Independence movements had therefore remained only vaguely aware of each other with little opportunity to discuss issues of mutual concern and much less of meeting on their own soil. Although the Bandung Conference was not the first gathering of African, Arab and Asian leaders, it was significant in that it brought them together as leaders of sovereign nations, independent of Western interventions.