Bandung documents

Sukarno, Let a New Africa and Asia Be Born, speech opening conference, 18 April 1955

Sukarno’s speech opening the conference was entitled “Let a New Africa and Asia be Born.” This was his first major speech delivered in English. It was written by British national Tom Atkinson and Australian citizen Molly Bondan, both of whom backed the Indonesian revolution in the late 1940s and subsequently worked as Sukarno’s English-language speechwriters.[1] The president, of course, put his own unique stamp on the draft.

Link to full text of Sukarno’s speech

[1] “Surat keterangan mengenai Pidato Bung Karno dalam Bahasa ingerris, 1955-1966,”  affidavit on Sukarno’s English-language speeches, Jakarta, 14 Feb. 1979, in National Library of Australia, Molly Bondan papers, MS4739, box 1, file 4.

Bandung conference documents

Key documents appear in their original form in the African-Asian Conference Bulletin (go to Bandung Bulletin tab to access).

The most commonly consulted, the conference final declaration, can be found here.

Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai’s report on the Bandung conference

President Sukarno visits Chairman Mao Zedong, Peace Hotel, Beijing – probably in 1956. From the wall of the hotel, photographed 2013

Bandung provided an opportunity for the Communist-led People’s Republic of China to improve relations with its Asian neighbours, who were at times nervous of China’s growing strength. Premier Zhou Enlai [Chou En-lai] delivered two speeches, signed a joint nationality agreement with Indonesia, met many leaders, and was generally agreed to have improved China’s relations with non-communist Asian states. Zhou’s report on the conference recommended that China welcome the conference declaration and continue to seek good relations with non-aligned states.

Excerpts from Premier Zhou Enlai report on Bandung conference to Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, Beijing, 13 May 1955.

US Ambassador’s views on Indonesia-China joint communique

United States ambassador Hugh S. Cumming reported the embassy’s views on the Indonesia-China joint statement (signed by Zhou Enlai and Ali Sastroamidjojo and printed in the conference bulletin) and the Bandung final declaration, seeing them as signs of leftward drift and worrying over the possibility of Indonesian alignment with communist China.

Telegram From the Embassy in Indonesia to the Department of State, 29 April 1955

Canadian PM Louis St. Laurent gives President Sukarno a tour of the parliament buildings, Ottawa, 1956. Image: Library and Archives Canada
Canadian PM Louis St. Laurent gives President Sukarno a tour of the parliament buildings, Ottawa, 1956. Image: Library and Archives Canada

Canadian diplomatic report on the conference

American Secretary of State John Foster Dulles famously denounced non-alignment as “immoral.” US neighbour and ally Canada offered a more sympathetic view. According to the Canadian Department of External Affairs, Canada was the only Western country to send a direct message to the conference. That message, Ali Sastroamidjojo’s reply, and Canadian commentary appear in this diplomatic circular signed by Canadian foreign minister Lester B. Pearson.

Canadian Secretary of State for External Affairs circular document to posts abroad, 27 July 1955

 After Bandung: an early look back at a foundational conference 

President Sukarno remembered Bandung on several occasions and played a major role in establishing it as a pivotal event in the international diplomatic memory. For instance, he used Bandung to promote his concept of the “new emerging forces” fighting against colonialism in all its manifestations in a speech opening the Asian-African Journalists’ Conference in Bandung, 24 April 1963.

Extracts from Sukarno speech 1963

Wilson Center digital archive on Bandung

Materials on the Bandung conference are not as rare as they once were. Some archives allow access to their collections and others are putting these materials online. A leader in this is the Wilson Center Digital Archive, which has translated key documents from several archives globally and posted them in English.

Wilson Center Bandung conference documents collection

Wilson Center documents relating to the proposed 1965 second African-Asian conference, which was cancelled after a coup in host nation Algeria.


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