Sunday 27 May 2018

African and Asian nations unite in appeal for new world order

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Reuters
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Reuters

Eveline Danubrata in Jakarta

Leaders of Asian and African nations called yesterday for a new global order that is open to emerging economic powers and leaves the "obsolete ideas" of Bretton Woods institutions in the past.

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 made a developing-world stand against colonialism and led to the Cold War era's non-aligned movement.

Among the leaders listening were Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping, who were expected to meet on the sidelines of the conference, the latest sign of a thaw in relations between the Asian rivals. Sino-Japanese ties have chilled in recent years due to feuds over the two neighbours' wartime past, as well as territorial rows and regional rivalry. Bilateral talks in Jakarta on Wednesday could promote a cautious rapprochement that began when Abe and Xi met at a summit in Beijing late last year.

Mr Abe, in an apparent reference to China's growing military assertiveness, told the conference that the use of force by the "mightier" should never go unchecked. The Japanese prime minister also said Japan had pledged, "with feelings of deep remorse over the past war", to adhere to principles such as refraining from acts of aggression and settling international disputed by peaceful means. It was not immediately clear if the remarks would satisfy China's desire for Japan to acknowledge its wartime past, but a Japanese official said Abe and Xi would meet.

Mr Xi had earlier told the conference that "a new type of international relations" was needed to encourage cooperation between Asian and African nations, and said the developed world had an obligation to support the rest with no political strings attached.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, the conference host, said those who still insisted that global economic problems could only be solved through the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and Asian Development Bank were clinging to "obsolete ideas".

"There needs to be change," he said. "It's imperative that we build a new international economic order that is open to new emerging economic powers."

The IMF and World Bank were at the centre of the post-World War Two monetary order created by the US and Europe at the Bretton Woods Conference in New Hampshire in 1944.

Mr Widodo made no mention of the China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) which is seen as a competitor to the Western-dominated World Bank and Asian Development Bank, but Indonesia is one of nearly 60 countries that has offered to be founding members of the AIIB.

Irish Independent

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