Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
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Bandung Conference (18–24 April 1955)

Meeting of twenty-nine Asian and African nations held in Bandung, Indonesia, during 18–24 April 1955. The end of World War II fostered increased nationalist fervor in the developing world, which sought liberation from the Western colonial powers. In December 1954, Burma, Ceylon (from 1972 Sri Lanka), India, Indonesia, and Pakistan jointly proposed an Asian-African conference aimed at fostering unity among Asian and African peoples and dialogue addressing nationalist sentiments.

The Bandung Conference included the People's Republic of China (PRC), the government of which was eager to augment its status in the third world. Led by Chinese Foreign Minister Zhou Enlai, the PRC's delegation would play an important role in reinforcing China's ties with Asia and Africa. On the second day of the conference, Zhou advocated the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, which outlined the PRC's foreign policy blueprint. The five principles called for the respect of national sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-aggression, nonintervention in internal affairs, equal and mutual opportunity, and peaceful coexistence. Zhou specifically indicted the United States for hindering peaceful coexistence, citing America's "aggressive" actions in the ongoing Taiwan Strait Crisis. His principles were well received, and they successfully cemented Chinese leadership in the developing world.

The conference concluded on 24 April 1955 with a ten-point declaration on the promotion of world peace and cooperation, which was adopted by all participants. The declaration advocated closer political, economic, and cultural ties among the signatories, mutual opposition to imperialism and colonialism, and the promotion of world peace and friendship. These tenets, collectively known as the Bandung Spirit, helped guide politics in the developing world for many years.

The Bandung Conference also eased tensions in the Taiwan Strait. On 23 April 1955, Zhou declared that the PRC was prepared to discuss Asian matters with the United States, including resolution of the First Taiwan Strait Crisis. To show its good faith, the PRC stopped shelling the contested offshore islands, which effectively ended the crisis in late April 1955. This led ultimately to the Sino-Ambassadorial Talks, first convened in Warsaw, Poland, on 1 August 1955, that provided the first direct channel for Sino-American communications since the PRC's birth in October 1949.

Law Yuk-fun


Further Reading
Griffith, William E. Cold War and Coexistence: Russia, China and the United States. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1971.; Neuhauser, Charles. Third World Politics: China and the Afro-Asian Peoples' Solidarity Organization, 1957–1967. Cambridge: East Asian Research Center, Harvard University, 1968.
 

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