Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Leaders of Asian and African nations today called for a new global order that would be open to emerging economic powers and scrap the "obsolete ideas" of Bretton Woods institutions (like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund).
Their calls came at the opening of a meeting of Asian and African nations in Jakarta to mark the 60th anniversary of a conference that led the emergence of the developing world against colonialism and to the Cold War era's non-aligned movement.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo, the conference host, is one of the leading proponents of the new world order. In his address, he urged fellow leaders of the two continents to work together to build an “international economic order that is open to new emerging economic powers."
The summit, which began on Sunday (19 April) and is slated to end on Friday (24 April), is being held in Jakarta, West Java, with delegates from 109 Asian and African nations, plus 16 observer states, and 25 international organisations.
The forum aims to strengthen relations between Asia and Africa, promote partnerships between countries in the two continents and help them share experiences in terms of economic development.
It is also an opportunity to discuss the main problems facing the global South, overcome common challenges, and strengthen cooperation among its peoples.
However, some leaders were a no-show. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the president of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena did not come.
The Indonesian president said he hoped to see Asia and African nations treated equally with the same opportunities as developed nations with global justice in lieu of unequal treatment.
"Views stating the world's economy can only be resolved by the World Bank, the IMF and the ADB are outdated and need to be thrown away," Widodo said in his speech.
For him, the world should no longer rely on the three institutions. Instead, Asia and Africa should unite to establish a new world economic order.
"We've urged for reform in the global financial architecture to eliminate the domination of a few. The world now needs a collective leadership that is just and responsible," he said.
"The present world is full of injustice. The new challenge is how to forge international cooperation based on justice and equality," he added.
However, many observers focused on a possible meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, on the sidelines of the conference.
The two leaders did shake hands this morning at a photo shoot of leaders attending the Asian-African Conference in Jakarta.
The possible meeting would probably focus on economic issues, against a background still shaped by the Second World War and China’s demand for a fuller apology for Japan’s wartime crimes.
Chinese officials have in fact repeatedly accused Abe of trying to revive Japanese militarism and whitewash the Imperial Army’s role in the Asian war, which killed an estimated 20 million Chinese.
In view of the situation, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed "feelings of deep remorse over the past war".
Still, the two Asian giants have become major partners with bilateral trade reaching US$ 340 billion in 2013. At the same time, they have become embroiled in territorial disputes in the East China Sea.
At the Jakarta conference, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for "a new type of international relations" to encourage cooperation between Asian and African nations.
For its part, the developed world had an obligation to support the rest with no political strings attached.
In a statement, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that terrorism and extremism have spread widely to various countries in Asia and Africa.
"Terrorists and extremists, especially in Iraq and Iran, have committed barbarism murdering innocent people on political motives destroying infrastructure of the two countries," he said.
Indian Ambassador to Indonesia Gurjit Singh said the Ten Principles of Bandung provide a good framework to cope with and prevent conflicts in Asia and Africa.
From the Indian point of view, he stressed that these principles are best guideline in averting conflicts in Asia and Africa.
This conference marks the 60th anniversary of the first Asian-African conference held in 1955, with the participation of about 30 nations, many of them recently independent.
At the time, the leading figures were Indonesian President Sukarno, Indian Prime Minister Nehru and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai. Egyptian President Nasser was the Arab world’s dominant leader.
In their final statement, participants agreed to a ten-point declaration, proclaiming the equality of nations, support for anti-colonialist movements, the rejection of military alliances based on superpower hegemony, and support for international political cooperation among member states.