Szetu Mei Sen is probably the best authority on assessing how China's diplomatic skills on the world stage have changed in 50 years - he is one of three who attended both African-Asian summits held in 1955 and this year. Formerly a journalist and later the private secretary of Indonesian founding president Sukarno, Mr Szetu, 77, is in a unique position to offer his perspective on the two summits, having met regional leaders from two generations. While President Hu Jintao faced an uphill task to resolve recent tensions with Japan, China's representative to the first summit, former prime minister Zhou Enlai , had to deal with an even more difficult situation. In 1955, amid strong anti-communist sentiment, countries such as Sri Lanka and Pakistan opposed China's participation in the summit. It took clever manoeuvring by Sukarno to bring China into the summit, said Mr Szetu. Tactics included sending Mr Szetu, then a journalist, to the Chinese embassy in Indonesia to leak information about the minutes of the Five Country Conference in Bogor - a preparatory meeting for the summit - through 'casual chats' with Chinese diplomats. 'So Zhou Enlai was very clear about who opposed China's participation in the summit. He was well prepared and even brought a Muslim leader with him. It was very convincing,' Mr Szetu said. Zhou also survived an assassination attempt before the summit when a bomb planted by a Taiwanese agent exploded on the plane he had planned to take to Indonesia. Mr Szetu recalled how Zhou won over his enemies with his charisma. 'There were quarrels at the meeting. Some countries attacked communism, saying it was a new form of colonialism,' he said. 'Mr Zhou invited the leaders of these countries to his residence for meals and he would approach them during coffee breaks ... He had charisma and he could win people over.' Mr Szetu said he agreed with former foreign minister Ruslan Abdulgani, organiser of the 1955 forum, that the major difference between the two summits was the absence of political giants this year. 'Dr Abdulgani said the first summit was successful because there were several giants such as Zhou Enlai, Sukarno, and Jawaharlal Nehru and now there is no giant in world's politics, apart from one or two half-giants, but they are not real giants,' Mr Szetu said. Asked to compare Zhou and Mr Hu, he said: 'I don't see any half-giant among the [current] Chinese leaders, they are just treading the line and follow the policies laid down by the collective leadership.' Without charismatic leaders at this year's summit, Mr Szetu said it could hardly recapture the glory and the passion of the first - even though there were five times the number of participants. He believed China's call for developing countries to join hands would remain an empty slogan as the poor nations were too occupied with their own domestic troubles.