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Digital Archive International History Declassified

March 27, 1955

REPORT FROM THE CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY, 'COMPILATION OF THE EXCERPTS OF THE TELEGRAMS CONCERNING THE ASIAN-AFRICAN CONFERENCE'

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    The collection of telegrams covers the procedure and agenda about the Asian-African Conference, the arguments about China’s participation in the Conference, the attempts of the US and the UK to influence the Conference, and the attitudes of various countries toward the Conference.
    "Report from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, 'Compilation of the Excerpts of the Telegrams Concerning the Asian-African Conference'," March 27, 1955, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, PRC FMA 207-00004-07, 63-68. Obtained by Amitav Acharya and translated by Yang Shanhou https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/113279
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(Top Secret)

[handwritten] Pass round for perusal among the delegation instructed by Zhou Enlai

on Apr. 8

[handwritten] Chen, Ye, Zhang read it.

Compilation of the Excerpts of the Telegrams Concerning the Asian-African Conference
(By March 27)

1. Procedure of the Asian-African Conference

The conference will open on April 18. In the first two days, the conference will hold plenary sessions to pass the procedure, elect the chairman and vice chairmen, and form various committees. The president of Indonesia will make a speech first, then the prime minister of Indonesia will make an opening speech on behalf of the initiating states, and at last the chief representatives of all participating states speak, each speaks about 15 to 20 minutes. It has not been finally decided whether the plenary session will be held openly.

After the speeches of all chief representatives, the various committees will hold meetings respectively. It has been temporarily decided that three committees, i.e. the Political Committee, the Economic Committee and the Social and Cultural Committee, shall be set up, and it is possible to add a Legal Relations Committee. Each committee sets up a four-to-five-person draft committee in charge of drafting resolutions. The resolutions of the various committees are subject to submission to the conference for discussion and approval. The meetings of all committees shall not be open to the public. Each committee shall fix a spokesman or set up a press group consisting of three persons to release news.

2. Agenda of the Asian-African Conference

The Joint Secretariat of the Asian-African Conference disclosed that three countries had put forward their proposals on the agenda, but it refused to indicate the names of the countries and the contents of the proposals. Laijawen told Vice Minister Zhang on March 5 that India had put forward an eight-item agenda. Another country that has made the proposal seems to be Ceylon. It is said that one item of its proposals is “the question of some countries’ joining the UN”.

The Indonesian charge’ d’affairs in Burma and the Indian first secretary in Burma said that the Asian-African Conference might discuss “the question of wide application of the Five Principles, mutual economic assistance and cultural exchange”. The Burmese charge’ d’affairs in Indonesia predicted that the conference would discuss the questions of anti-colonialism and the economic cooperation among the Asian-African countries. He also said that the questions of Taiwan and West Irian might be brought forth.

At the end of March, the Joint Secretariat will distribute the summary of the proposals put forward by the five initiating states to the participating countries.

3. Various comments on the participation of China in the Asian-African Conference

Various sides(including the president and prime minister) in Indonesia place a high hope on Premier Zhou’s participation in the Asian-African Conference on the one hand, but worry about that China might be excessively “active” or too “conspicuous” on the other hand. The member of the Central Committee of the National Party of Indonesia and the former governor of South Sumatera Province Issa expressed to the overseas Chinese that the easy way to settle problems was that if China wanted to put forward some proposals, it had better consult first with India, Burma and Indonesia and then these countries would submit the proposals to the conference instead of China. The Secretary-general of the National People’s Party Maliti also expressed to the overseas Chinese that it would be best if China was not excessively “active”.

The Secretary-general of Indian Foreign Ministry Bilai said to Ambassador Yuan that he hoped the Chinese delegation would not have too many people. He also said that India had the opinion that the participating countries should seek common grounds and then consolidate them and expand them in the Asian-African Conference, but should not create disputes so as to avoid being used by the non-participating countries. Bilai went on to say that India appreciated very much China’s tolerant and waiting attitude towards Thailand, the Philippines, etc. and its dignity and restraint embodied on the Taiwan issue.

The Burma Star, controlled by U Dan, the Political Secretary to U Nu, expressed its doubt about and fear of the Asian States Conference, hinting that this conference was manipulated by China and expressing that the issues discussed in this conference could be discussed in the Asian-African Conference. The pro-American Nationality of Burma made use of the Asian States Conference to sow discord, saying that China took this conference as a forum for propaganda in order to influence the Asian-African Conference. This newspaper said that China could conveniently influence the countries' sympathizing neutrality without being refuted by the western force and take advantage of its status as an invited participant to carry out its activities skillfully and smartly in the Asian-African Conference.

4. The American and British Sabotage Activities against the Asian-African Conference

On the eve of the Asian-African Conference, the US intensified its activities to draw India over to its own side. US dispatched its former ambassador, Pauls, to visit India in an attempt to persuade India to follow its policy. He made speeches on the goodwill between USA and India in order to relax India’s anti-US mood. Then, US dispatched Stason to India to win over India by increasing economic aid as a bait and to try to find out about India’s intention to join the Economic Group of the Southeast Asian Region and receive American economic and technical aid. US also announced that it was willing to supply India with atomic energy materials, and even put forward such a proposal as to help India to realize its industrialization through Japan.

The meeting of the American envoys in the Far East region also discussed the question of sabotaging the Asian-African Conference. US hopes Japan, Turkey, the Philippines, Thailand and Pakistan will maintain in the Asian-African Conference that since there is the UN Charter, the Five Principles is unnecessary.

After the Bangkok Conference, the UK also intensified its activities in an attempt to influence the attitude of the Asian neutralist states such as Burma and other countries towards the Asian-African Conference. One of the main purposes of Iden’s visit to Burma and India lies in this. The Bulletin issued by the British Embassy in Burma conducted slanderous propaganda against China, claiming that the fact that the Manila Treaty put the three countries of Indochina under its protected area should be viewed in connection with China’s conscription from its 600 million people, declaring falsely that China used its armed ethnic groups to carry out militarily subversive activities in border areas and that the disappearance of the unity of the Asian “free states” was attributed to the inveiglement of the Chinese diplomacy and these countries’ avoidance to the military alliance of the western countries.

5. Attitudes of the Five Initiating States towards the Asian-African Conference

The People’s Monthly of Ceylon (It started publication in Colombo last year after the Colombo Conference and the five prime ministers sent their congratulations to the monthly) disclosed that the five initiating states intended to adopt the following resolution in the Asian-African Conference. The resolution would be based on the Five Principles, but it included the so-called restriction on China, such as to forbid assistance to foreign political groups in any form. The resolution also intended to declare that disputes should be solved peacefully in accordance with the UN Charter in order to give in to those countries against the Five Principles and connect the Asian-African Conference with UN on the one hand, and restrict China’s act to liberate Taiwan on the other hand. The resolution would set up a proper institution to supervise whether the resolution was observed.

It seems that most of the five initiating states wish to avoid the occurrence of arguments in the Asian-African Conference. U Nu said that the Asian-African Conference was “nothing, but the exchange of ideals by the participating states and the common effort to seek peace for the two regions”. Nehru said: “The conference shall not discuss the questions that will arouse fierce argument among the participating countries.” Pakistan also denied that it would bring forth the Kashmir issue in the Asian-African Conference.

The attitudes of the five initiating states are respectively summarized as follows:

India: Menon disclosed that Nehru did not want to keep too big a difference from USA on major international issues, unless it would bring more difficulties for the settlement of the Kashmir and Goa issues in the future. Therefore, Nehru’s only intention is that the Asian-African states will preliminarily establish a reconciled relation through the Asian-African Conference without expecting to settle any major issues.

Burma: The Government of Burma holds that the Asian-African Conference “can only widely exchange the views on the issues concerning the common interest of the Asian-African region and increase the understanding through mutual contact, but it is not necessary to make any binding resolutions”.

Indonesia: The Government of Indonesia pays more attention to the economic issues, but each party or faction has its different view. The Secretary-general of the National Party of Indonesia Shabilarlasa stressed that the major purpose of the Asian-African Conference was to oppose colonialism.

Ceylon: The minister of Ceylon, accredited in Burma, said to Ambassador Yao that he personally maintained that the Asian-African Conference should form a council or a joint secretariat consisting of China, Japan, Indonesia and Burma to mediate the disputes among the Asian countries so that the US intervention would be excluded. But the prime minister of Ceylon proposed to hold an economic meeting by the five states of the Colombo Conference one day before the Asian-African Conference to discuss the economic cooperation among the five countries.

Pakistan: The newspapers predicted that the position of Pakistan in the Asian-African Conference might be: (1) oppose the Five Principles, maintaining that it has been included in the UN Charter; (2) support Ceylon, Japan, Libya, etc to join UN; (3) oppose French and Dutch colonialism, “not in a hurry” to support the national independent movement of Malaya, and support US position in case the Taiwan issue discussed; (4) condemn South Africa’s racial discrimination policy; (5) advocate simultaneous ban of atomic weapons and conventional weapons, unless a ban of either of them exists; (6) avoid discussing “the issues arousing disputes” such as the Manila Treaty.

6. Attitudes of Other Participating Countries towards the Asian-African Conference

(1) Thailand: It is estimated that Thailand together with the Philippines, Turkey, Pakistan and the pro-American states in Middle East might adopt a pose of supporting the Asian-African Conference with a special purpose of seeking differences between China and the neutralist states of India, Burma, Indonesia, etc to sow discord, and divert the meetings to develop in favour of the US when various issues are in discussion. For example, when anti-colonialism is in discussion, it stresses the principles of “the Pacific Charter” and brings forth the so-called threat of neocolonialism; when peaceful coexistence is in discussion, it stresses the UN Charter, demanding the “communist states” prove by real act that they have given up their “aggressive ambition”; when economic exchange is in discussion, it stresses “the Colombo Plan”; when cultural exchange in discussion, it stresses the maintenance of “free culture” and the protection of human rights, etc.

(2) Japan: Hatoyuma said that the main purpose of Japan to participate in the Asian-African Conference was to discuss economic issues. The Japanese diplomats accredited in Southeast Asian countries held a meeting to discuss the economic situations of the countries they were accredited in. The Japanese governmental sources disclosed on the one hand that the Japanese representative would have informal discussions with our representatives in the Asian-African Conference, but expressed on the other hand that Japan would take part in the discussion on “the issues like the prevention of New China’s expansion”.

(3) Turkey: Turkey added a reservation condition when accepting the invitation, stating that this did not mean any change of its attitude towards Communist China. The deputy foreign minister of Turkey expressed that inviting Taiwan might become a problem in the conference. Turkey opposes the proposal that India plans to put forward on dividing the participating countries into regional groups, claiming that such division will weaken the strength of the pro-West European faction.

(4) Egypt: Egypt hopes that the Asian-African Conference will facilitate close cooperation among various Asian-African countries in economy, politics and culture.

(5) The Gold Coast: Regarding whether to accept the invitation to participate in the Asian-African Conference, the struggle inside the Gold Coast is very fierce. The Yugolavian counselor in Burma told Ambassador Yao that the governor of the Gold Coast was British and most of the staff of its national defense department, who constituted a faction to refuse the invitation, have extremely pro-British elements; but its prime minister was a person with nationalist characteristics and the Socialist Party, which constituted a faction to accept the invitation, was powerful to a certain extent; now the two factions were locked in a stalemate.