by Allanah Leahy – EM TV Online
Papua New Guinea joined 21 out of 109 Asian and African leaders last Wednesday for the Asian-African Conference.
Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato was present at the conference, which addressed emerging economic powers, a stronger effort against terrorism and diplomatic ties between member nations.
The conference is also known as the Bandung Conference; initiated in 1955 in Indonesia, it aims to promote African and Asian economic cooperation, diplomacy, as well as political self-determination.
Although Indonesia invited leaders from 109 Asian and African countries, only 21 leaders reportedly turned up, which may mean that the group is no longer relevant, according to commentators.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who was the conference host, said that those who rely on institutions such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and Asian Development Bank to solve global economic problems were clinging to ‘obsolete ideas’.
Widodo made no mention of the China-proposed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which is seen as a competitor to the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, despite Indonesia being one of the 60 countries offered to be a founding member.
Leaders also called for more interaction and efforts against violence and terrorism.
“We are responsible for all he nations in Asia and Africa to gain a better life. We are able to fight against colonialism and terrorism that threatens the lives of our children. Terrorism has no boundary or citizenship,” said Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said at the conference that a ‘new type of international relations’ is needed to boost cooperation between Asian and African nations. President Jinping also reportedly said that the developed world has an obligation to support the rest, with no political strings attached.
Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato commented on Papua New Guinea’s unique position and efforts to engage with other countries to expand on various sectors. In a statement, he said:
“As the only country that is a member of the Asian-African Conference, APEC and the Pacific Islands Forum, our country is in a unique position as a bridge between these forums.
“The purpose of the Asian African Conference is to strengthen south-to-south cooperation, in other words, to enhance cooperation between developing countries.”
Economies have changed dramatically since the Bandung Conference’s first meeting in 1955, when member countries accounted for less than a quarter of the global economic output; today, they contribute to over half of the world economy.