Erenlai - China, the Region and the World 中國與國際舞台
China, the Region and the World 中國與國際舞台

China, the Region and the World 中國與國際舞台


China has become a major international player, and is initiating new partnerships. Here we discuss how it can better participate in world governance and multilateralism, and what it rise means for other countries in Asia.

中國躍上國際舞台後給整個亞洲帶來什麼衝擊?它又能為世界帶來什麼樣的啟示?它的古老智慧、改革、優勢與經驗,會不會創造出一些值得全球討論、省思甚或借鏡的地方呢?

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, 01 October 2008

福田引退,外交歸位?

 
日相福田康夫請辭,對日本政壇產生哪些效應?未來又將如何影響國際局勢?

撰文│何思慎 輔仁大學日文系副教授


日相福田康夫以迅雷不及掩耳之勢請辭,距其上台未滿周年。接替安倍晉三出任首相的福田,不斷受制於「扭曲的國會」(ねじれ国会),以致重要法案無法通過,國政無法順利推動,百姓生活每下愈況。其間福田雖力圖振作,月前改組內閣,以求挽回民心;然此舉對拉抬內閣聲望效果有限,媒體民調數字更顯示改組效果為零。福田的下台,應驗前首相小泉「改組後若仍不得民心,福田須下台」的政治判斷。

福田內閣聲望持續低迷,不僅造成自民黨支持群眾流失,亦衝擊自民黨與公明黨的合作氣氛。自、公兩黨除對「恐怖主義對策特別措施法」各持立場,在解散眾議院的時機上,進退維谷的福田雖不急於解散眾議院,但公明黨卻希望於今年底或明年初解散它,竭盡全力在明夏東京都議會選舉中放手一搏。兩黨各為一己政治利益盤算,不合傳聞亦成「永田町」最令人感興趣的小道消息。因此,福田雖對外說明「下台乃希望為陷入僵局的日本國政尋求突破契機」,但自、公已非琴瑟和鳴,應是讓福田萌生去意的因素之一。

在內外交迫下,福田感到勢不可為。「解散眾院」已箭在弦上,但在內閣支持率僅二成的情況下強渡關山,無疑是政治自殺。此時改選自民黨將可能失去政權,且無法如一九九三年淪為在野般,迅速離間執政聯盟,重返執政。福田不願成為全黨罪人,且成為自民黨史上最不堪的總裁。讓新人上台,重燃選民對「自公聯合內閣」的支持,應是福田延續自民黨政權的最後一帖猛藥。惟若新首相仍喚不回民意,政黨輪替應是必然結局。

面對自民黨一九五五年結黨以來最大的生存危機,自民黨內應會暫時抛開派系利益恩怨,共推高人氣政治明星,在即將到來的眾院大選中吸票。跡象顯示,在自民黨總裁參選者中,麻生出線的機率最高。

根正苗紅的麻生太郎為「吉田路線」正牌繼承人,其外交政策與福田高舉的「新福田主義」必有出入;被束之高閣的「價值外交」將重回日本外交政策思路,而「美日同盟」亦會先於日中關係。麻生的「價值外交」與美國共和黨總統提名人麥肯(John McCain)提出的外交理念「以團結民主國家對基軸的夥伴關係」不謀而合。若其順利出線,將令美國對日本更為放心。

其間日中關係雖不必然回到小泉內閣時期的低潮,但缺乏能與中國「以心傳心」的福田首相穿針引線,日、中能否暫擱置爭議,實現「第四份公報」揭櫫的「戰略互惠關係」,不無疑問。麻生的保守立場,令中國似乎對其缺乏足夠「信任」,這將成為左右日中關係發展的最大變數。


Wednesday, 25 June 2008

去年夏天,我曾到過汶川

五月十二日下午兩點半左右,四川發生大地震,霎時,在成都樓層室內感覺搖搖欲墜,酒瓶落地摔得粉碎,書櫥應聲倒塌,廚房乒乒作響,小區內人心惶惶,處處傳來淒厲叫聲,聚集相互詢問,個個驚慌失措,一臉狼狽。校園裏、街道上群眾奔馳,集聚走避,馬路上交通幾乎癱瘓,而通訊又一時中斷,尤增詭異恐懼氣氛。
到了晚上,通訊傳遞,才知道震央位置在距離成都市北區近一百公里處的汶川縣發生八級強烈地震,天崩地裂,樓層倒塌,或震為平地,瓦礫殘骸,一片哀號,瞬間數千名無辜老百姓傷亡;隨著時間推移,死亡與失蹤人數節節上升,令人不忍卒睹!

去年夏天,我校學院與香港城市大學師生曾經組織捐書活動到汶川草坡中心小學。記得那一天學校剛結束期末考試不久,我們共同坐了兩部大型巴士由校園出發。一早七點多集合完畢,約八點鐘開車。當經過都江堰後,巴士開始爬坡往汶川方向行進,進入藏區阿壩州,則沿途崇山峻嶺,林木森森,順著羊腸小徑蜿蜒曲折而行,到處可見峽谷斷崖,司機小心翼翼放慢車速,不敢加速超車,因為有任何的閃失,都可能墜落翻覆,魂斷命喪。
山坡路很狹窄,曲折多彎,在最逼仄處,僅能容一車身行駛,因此,遇有前方來車相錯而過,還必得緩緩調整挪移,才能順暢通行。
我們幾位師生在車座後排聊天唱歌,真是愉快。一路上又談到抵達藏區小學要怎麽樣鼓勵那些小朋友等等,心情無限的好!
不久,車子突然停住不走了。原來前方不遠處有巨石坍方,路面正在搶修中。不確定何時才能夠恢復暢通,於是大家紛紛下車伸伸懶腰,透透空氣。折騰了近兩個小時左右,才又繼續往目的地行進。
到了中午十二點鐘過後,總算才到達草坡中心小學。這是一所人數只有一百多人的小學校,校長特別介紹啟用不久的新教學大樓,還有一棟正在建築中,預計幾個月後也能使用了。
車子開到校門,把一捆又一捆的新書搬下車,運往校園升旗臺上,早已有小朋友激動地列隊歡迎我們。他們手舞足蹈,開心極了,個個眼神靈活,看著這批批打包完好的新書。我特別注意到他們的眼睛緊緊盯住很久,流露出喜悅、羡慕的目光。當我們要把書籍搬進辦公室時,有幾個小朋友還爭先恐後自動說要幫忙。但他們的個子太小了,根本不可能幫上忙,而為了他們有參與感,還是讓他們一起來吧。
後來,校長與多位老師說,這些小朋友有的在早上七、八點就來學校等候了。到了九點多、十點左右,還不停地問怎麼還沒有來呢。可見,這些小孩多麼喜歡我們去看他們!
一直到午後一點多,把整個贈書儀式完成,大家才想到該吃午餐了。
起先這些學生有點靦腆,要他們來拍照合影,還互讓半推一番,竊竊私語。
有個三年級的小女孩長得很漂亮,我會注意到她,是因為她的裝扮比較特別:留著一頭烏黑亮髮,頭上別著二朵小花,兩耳掛著一對銀白色耳環,在七月豔陽照耀下,尤顯得奪目亮麗!我當時還半開玩笑說,所有同學都沒有戴耳環,為什麼你這麼愛漂亮戴耳環。她反應很快,立刻說她是少數民族,全村的女孩從小就人人戴耳環,如果不戴才奇怪呢。我打從心裏暗暗稱許,她的回答真好,得體又合乎實情。與他們合照了幾張相,帶著依依不捨的心情告別。

沒想到,這竟是一次永遠的訣別!

一位參加那次捐書活動的同仁給我回復短信:“我在哭不能再跟我講香港的同學也在問”,沒有任何標點符號,我能夠感受其心情。一位參與的大三學生說:“只知道那所小學已經不在了”,另一位學生說:“那個據辛老師說草坡中心小學已經坍塌了……確實如此…… 不過天地不仁……這也是沒辦法的事情……”,沒說完,掩面而哭。

摩挲著相片,天真無邪的笑容掛在臉上,尤增悲愴,使人不忍多看。生命如紙薄,何其脆弱也!

九年前臺灣九二一半夜大地震,我幸運地逃過一次劫難:在玻璃櫥櫃倒塌前,我被地震搖醒,本能反射用手臂去擋,玻璃碎片劃破前臂,左手血流如注,急送醫院縫了二十一針,留下一道長長的弧形傷疤,迄今回憶,猶有餘悸!

今年在成都經歷大地震,往後幾天,餘震連連,天天在半夜驚醒,果是真實狀況。這樣的日子還要持續多久,誰也不知道。

昨天下午上課,在黑板上寫上李白〈劍閣賦〉:“咸陽之南,直望五千里,見雲峰之崔嵬。前有劍閣橫斷,倚青天而中開。上則松風蕭颯瑟蔚,有巴猿兮相哀。旁則飛湍走豁,灑石噴閣,洶湧而驚雷。送佳人兮此去,復何時兮歸來。望夫君兮安極,我沉吟兮歎息。……”,也抄上〈蜀道難〉部分文字:“邇來四萬八千歲,不與秦塞通人煙。西當太白有鳥道,可以橫絕峨眉顛,地崩山摧壯士死,然後天梯石棧相勾連”,“蜀道之難,難於上青天,使人聽此凋朱顏。連峰去天不盈尺,枯松倒掛倚絕壁,飛湍瀑流爭喧虺,砰崖轉石萬豁雷,其險也若此,嗟爾遠道之人胡為乎來哉!劍閣崢嶸而崔嵬,一夫當關,萬夫莫開”,我跟學生講這兩首詩的意思,並以今日汶川的地形為例,說明為何地震無法立即有效搶救,必須要動用直升機空投與傘兵跳傘救援的原因。去年我到過汶川,李白這種描述是毫不誇張的。

我看到學生邊抄寫邊聽課,眼眶紅紅的,我不忍講太久……。

我只恨,我只恨,我只恨,我太愚鈍了,要犧牲這麼多人的生命,才能完全讀懂李白的詩歌,而這個代價,未免太大了!


謹以此文敬悼五月十二日大地震喪生的同胞
二零零八年五月二十日晚於成都

附加的多媒體:
{rokbox}media/articles/Wuchinfa_sichuan.jpg{/rokbox}

Thursday, 01 May 2008

Globalization, Cultural diversity and Sustainable Development

I left the road and went into the wood. The path was large and smooth. I had been told that it would lead me to a circular wall of stones, the remains of a common house or a sacred ground built by one the people who had anonymously ventured into the island. Not much was left of the little colony that had settled there around four thousand years ago. A few weapons and fragments of pottery had been excavated, and were now exhibited elsewhere, in a little-known museum. Most of the findings had probably been kept by the locals. In the wood, there was no signpost - you just had to follow the path till you bumped into this circular wall made of heavy and reddish stones. Turning on the left, I found the opening, a very large stone adorning its top. Once inside, it seemed to be a shell carved in the heart of the forest: you could bend your back and venture into little rooms arranged all around the inner circle drawn by the rough wall. The upper ranges of stones had disappeared, but the design was reminiscent of a hut or, somehow, a big igloo. One could easily imagine a kind of rounded roof, a space left on the top for letting the smoke fly towards the sky, together with the songs, the laughs or the curses that were exchanged around the fire.

I sat outside the circle, against the wall. From there, one could not distinguish the valley, so heavy was the cover of the trees on the slopes. But the space around the remains was half cleared, and I could see the evening sky. It was still intensely blue, though, from place to place, it now seemed to mirror the shades of the stones and the trunks. The moon was already there, discreet and ill at ease like a guest who has made a mistake and arrives too early for dinner – in this second half of the month of June, the light would just not go away, and was bathing earth and sky as long as it could. It took hours before the night was night at last, ruled by the small moon crescent and by strong, vibrant stars, all of them glazing at the wall and surely also at myself, as I was now lying on my back, defiantly watching at whomever was watching me.

And then… after this long vigil, music was suddenly flowing, a rarefied music, music that gives itself from the shell of silence; from the shell of the ear, from the shell of the inner rooms this wall was encircling, from the birds and the beasts of the night, from the blind wind hesitantly touching trees, grass and stones, from the earth and its bones, from my breath and the stars, from what was dark and what was not. Maybe this ground had been chosen and erected for giving pulse and vibration to the music that flows by night, to music that searches who will capture it in its nest and will then offer it in return to what or whom music comes from. The ground had been the harp through which sounds and rhythms were finding their shape and their master, and were, night after night, spelling the sentence to utter and repeat in new and endless variations. The harp now was resonating faintly, but to the one who would apply his ear against the stones and the earth that assembled them the sentence was still audible, as clear as the stars in the cloudless night. And I finally closed my eyes, not looking anymore at who was watching over me, but listening to the silence running under my voice and to the voice hidden in the silence I was reaching.

Attached media :
{rokbox size=|544 384|thumb=|images/slideshow_en.jpg|}media/articles/Benoit_Corsica.swf{/rokbox}

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

China-India Forum (2007 – 2010)

Building Partnership and Creating Platform for an Asian Citizens Assembly in 2010
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

China-India Forum initiated in February 2007 has been a significant mobilization of young people from different geographical regions of both the countries. In August 2007, 21 Chinese friends came to India for a cross-cultural dialogue, people-to-people exchange and to share and learn from each others various experience and knowledge. This was an important step and launching of the concrete Phase 1 activity of the China-India Forum. It provided an opportunity to look at the possibility of evolving a genuinely inclusive process by the most populous nations in Asia and the World to contribute substantially towards the evolution of Asian Citizens Assembly in 2010.The Chinese friends and the Indian certainly felt the need of Citizens Assembly and would like to play the lead role in Asia for the same through the China-India Forum.
China-India Forum will be conducive to regional stability and prosperity working towards a Citizens Assembly. But the Forum in its journey will further open the doors for other countries in Asia like Korea, Japan, Philippines, Iran, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and others.
Youth participants during the exchanges discussed and shared views on different issues such as:
1. Environment (Global Warming & Water Concerns)
2. Role of Information Technology, Education and Media,
3. Role of Women
4. Health - HIV/AIDS concerns
5. Role of Spirituality, Materialism and Religions (Buddhism and Confucianism) in
Promoting Social Harmony and Peace
6. Cultural and Historical Pluralism
7. Comparative Perspective on Arts and Culture / Literature

In October and November 2007, China-India Forum along with other local partners organized Environmental film festival in Philippines, China (Peking University & Renmin University in Beijing) and Japan (United Nations University, Tokyo University in Tokyo)
What does Environment have to do with Peace? was the question raised when Wangari Maathai received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. And recently by choosing Al Gore and the IPCC for the award in 2007, the Nobel Committee have rightly brought to our attention that Climate Change is the one of the biggest threat to the World Peace we have ever faced.
China-India Forum will be a platform for the youth of the two important nations to transform Asia into an area of peace. Youth by their creative thinking, cultivating relations based on complementary interests and realistic expectations by the exchanges will continue the process for sustainable development. The Forum will eventually engage Citizens from all over Asia for an effective implementation of the objectives of the Forum.

Inter-Cultural Exchanges in Japan and China - July 2008 & July 2009
--------------------------------------------
At the conclusion of the China-India Forum Youth Festival in August 2007, it was also decided to invite Japan to be part of the Forum. Currently the relations among China, Japan and India, that is, the Sino-Japanese, Sino-Indian and Japanese-Indian relations are generally good. But there are some problems and frictions, which exactly indicate that the three countries should seek for a new transcending platform to improve their respective bilateral relations through developing multilateral cooperation.
In July 2008, 10 Chinese and 10 Indians will visit Japan for an inter-cultural exchange and cross-cultural dialogue for about 2 weeks. In July 2009, 10 Indians and 10 Japanese will visit China.

During the two weeks of Inter-Cultural Exchange there will also be a conference for three or four days on different thematic. At the China-India Forum Youth Festival in August 2007 we discussed about 8 themes and we will continue the discussion and dialogue up to the Citizens Assembly through Conferences, Open Space & E-Forums.

For a fruitful discussion at the next Forum we will discuss the following three topics in Japan.
1. Environment (Climate Change and Water concerns)
2. Health – HIV/AIDS concerns
3. Women, Family and Education

This Forum will be right in time during the next G8 summit which promises to focus on Climate Change and Global Health.

Open Space and E-Forums
-------------------------
China-India Forum has an informative website (www.chinaindiaforum.org.in) about its various activities and objectives. But it still needs to be revised regularly and have more discussions and interaction by the Asian Citizens interested in an Assembly.

Open Space Forum will encourages discussion, debate and action on social justice, sustainable development and human rights.

For the next two years youth will initiate dialogue on several issues bringing together people from different constituency; government, NGO, corporate, academicians, bureaucrats, religious and social development leaders, etc. New Proposals for the 21st century will be invited and documented through the Open Space Forum.

The Open Space Forum will also lead to an annual E-Forum before the Citizens Assembly in 2010 to discuss many other thematic which may not be discussed at length during the Inter-Cultural Exchanges like the one in Japan in 2008 and in China in 2009.
E-Forum will be an attempt to move discussions and dialogue from the academic world to the streets of major cities in Asia. In this way the voices from many will be heard.
In 2008 we intend to have a youth E-Forum and in 2009 an Inter-generational E-Forum and thus setting tone for the Citizens Assembly for both youth and adults.

FPH team will conduct training for youth for Mapping Techniques and Methodological tools and in collaboration with Jo’s Animatronics (Bangalore, India) build a platform for Open Space and user-friendly tool for successful E-Forums.

The role of media will be very important for the China-India Forum and Open Space and E-Forums will complement to publicize the objectives and efforts of the Forum.


Networks related to the China India Forum
-----------------------------------------

1. Asian Forum for Solidarity Economy
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
China-India Forum was well represented at the Asian Forum for Solidarity Economy in Manila, Philippines in October 2007 organized by Ben Quinones (CSRSME Asia). Pacific-Asia Research Centre (PARC), Tokyo, Japan one of the main partners who are organizing the next Solidarity Economy Forum in 2009 in Tokyo are also the host organization of the upcoming China-India-Japan Forum. In July 2008, these two Forum will discuss their partnership and to see how they can join hands for the Citizens Assembly in 2010.

2. Asian Environment Alliance and Charter of Human Responsibilities
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The 4th International Conference of Environmental Education held in Ahemdabad, India between 24th-28th November 2007 was primarily focused on the strategic role of Education in Decision-Making for Sustainable Development.

China-India Forum will empower children and youth to not just plant trees but promote other aspects like training the youth as local entrepreneurs that will help improve natural and human resources management, and environmental leaders for their communities, promoting the use of alternative energies, eco-friendly transport, etc through peer education.

The Environment Alliance of the China-India Forum will network with the various ongoing efforts all over Asia by different organizations. An educational film and interactive booklet on how to fight Climate Change will be prepared and published for children and youth. These education tools will focus on the notion of Environment and Responsibility drawn from the Charter of Human Responsibilities. This will be an effort to join and contribute to the program of the World Children’s Conference on Environment –‘Lets take care of our planet’ in Brasil by the International Facilitation Charter of Human Responsibilities team.

Main Organizations of the China-India-Japan Forum:
-----------------------------------------------
China – Centre for Cross-Cultural Studies, Peking University, Beijing.

India – Global Citizens for Sustainable Development / Vedike, Bangalore

Japan – Pacific-Asia Research Centre (PARC), Tokyo


Proposed Activities for the next three years:
-----------------------------------------

Phase 2: China-India-Japan Forum – 2008
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
July 2008 – China-India-Japan Inter-Cultural Exchange in Japan
(tentative dates: 20th July – 3rd August 2008)

December 2008 – E-Forum (youth Dialogue) and follow up meeting in China.

Phase 3: China-India-Japan Forum - 2009
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
July 2008 – Asian Youth Assembly in China – 2009

December 2009 – E-Forum (Inter-Generational Dialogue)


Phase 4: Asian Citizens Assembly in India – 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
After the Inter-cultural encounter and exchange in 2007 in India, in 2008 in Japan & in 2009 in China, youth involved in the process would have attained knowledge and understanding on issues related to different thematic. They would be empowered and as young leaders work and influence policy in their respective countries for sustainable development and peace.

The E-Forum in December 2009 will focus and initiate an Inter-Generational Dialogue and thus setting right tune for an Asian Citizens Assembly for both youth and adults in November 2010 in India.
=============================================
John Anugraha is the coordinator of the China-India Forum
Download the printable version

Attached media :
{rokbox size=|544 384|thumb=|images/slideshow_en.jpg|}media/articles/ChinaIndiaForum2007.swf{/rokbox}

中國:亞盟的貢獻者

【薛申昆 主述】
【柯蕾莉 採訪 撰文】【蔡函岑 翻譯】

中國是團結亞洲的縮影

薛申昆說:「在中國境內,五十多個民族共存共榮,少數民族保有自己的方言、文化傳統和宗教信仰。各民族都是這個大家庭的一份子;對內保有多元色彩,對外同屬一個統一的國家。」
問及「多元」與「統一」如何並存?薛申昆認為,多元與統一看似矛盾,統一的概念實則應從亞洲的教育向下扎根。「在中國這樣的泱泱大國成長,加上從小到大所受的教育,大國子民的概念早已深植於心。」薛申昆說。
討論到「亞洲身分」時,薛申昆表示:「我一直有強烈的中國意識,但是在法國人眼裡,我只是一個亞洲人。在法國住久了,我也逐漸認定自己只是亞洲人。」對薛申昆而言,「亞洲」一詞和佛教、儒家思想、用箸的飲食文化和黃膚色等特質可以畫上等號。亞洲文化的多元性,讓特性相近的國家親上加親。但儘管如此,亞洲各國都應該為建立亞盟貢獻心力。

中印兩國發展有助於建立亞盟

中國被喻為「世界工廠」。然而,薛申昆坦言,中國的經濟發展若未加以調控,自然環境遭受嚴重破壞。屆時,中國將成為「污染最嚴重的國家」。「中國需要建立一套制度以抑制過熱的經濟,並紓緩隨之而來的種種問題。」薛說。不論是超國家組織或是中國領軍的博驁亞洲論壇,皆能促進各國團結,同時提升亞洲各國的使命感。
薛申昆更認為,一個穩定的組織有如一顆定心丸,讓亞洲人面對西方勢力時更有自信。「中國與印度能起帶頭作用,凝聚亞洲力量。我希望中印兩國未來能和亞洲各國加強合作,帶動各國發展,建立更密切的多邊關係。」

扭轉西方對中國的負面印象

「在建構亞洲聯盟的過程中,中國務必要加強與邊疆各省的聯繫。」薛申昆也認為,中國會逐漸享有更高的國際地位。「任由一個共產政體領導亞洲發展,似乎有違西方人的原則。但是換個角度來看,中國人口數為世界之最,許多人民卻是文盲,因此中國必須要加強人民的素質。如果中國明天就轉為民主政體,反而是向後退步,必定造成混亂。」申昆也感嘆,西方媒體有意無意的醜化中國政府的形象。他舉例說:「法國媒體製作的中國紀錄片往往會抨擊貧窮問題與某些政府政策,這些媒體左右了法國人民對中國的觀感。」他認為,中國若能參與亞洲組織的建構,不但能起帶頭作用,更能夠扭轉西方人對中國的負面印象。

附加的多媒體:
{rokbox}media/articles/BeingAsian_Chinese.jpg{/rokbox}

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Chinese is becoming the language of a global Asia

 
1. You grew up in the Northern countryside part of Vietnam. What led you to come to Taiwan?
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Both my mother and elder sister are teachers in Vietnam. I learned from them that teaching is a very rewarding job and it motivated me to follow their path. As I have always been interested to learn more about other cultures and as I particularly liked Chinese language, I decided to become a Chinese teacher. I chose to go to Taiwan over China because Taiwanese write in traditional characters which are closer to the origins of Chinese culture. Along with the development of Asia, Chinese is becoming a more and more popular language to learn. People use it when they do business or travel in Asia, so I think I made the right decision to focus on it. Chinese might become ‘the’ language of a more united new Asia.

2. Is ‘Being Asian’ a new concept to you?
-----------------------------------------
I see many similarities between Vietnamese and Northern Asian cultures. I was able to adapt to Taiwanese life style within three months. In Vietnam, we also celebrate Chinese New Year and Mid-Autumn Festival. I feel there is a lot I can share with other Asians, and I am part of a bigger group of Asian Nations. I am a Vietnamese indeed, but I am also an Asian.
Levels of growth development represent the most obvious differences between Asian countries. Many Vietnamese go to South Korea or Taiwan to seek job opportunities such as factory workers or domestic workers. Asia’s development is giving chances to the youths who go abroad to get a better education. Back in Vietnam, I feel it is our duty to teach the young generations what we have learned abroad and, in this way, contribute to the development of our country.

3. How does Asian cooperation help to develop the national economy of Vietnam?
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Vietnam is part of ASEAN, the only supra-national organization in Asia. Trade relations within Southeast Asia contribute greatly to the development of the national economy. However, the perspective of a bigger Asia offers more opportunities for cooperation in which Vietnam can take part. Our country can offer Northeast Asian developed countries the cheaper labor they need. Asian developed countries, like Japan, focus on production of new technologies which are made at a higher price. In this sense, broader cooperation in Asia is a chance for each country to develop its market. It also gives opportunities to the people living in developing countries, like Vietnam, to get a job in their home country. The money they earn enhances their living and can satisfy their needs: eat better, even buy a house…

4. Which role do you think young Asians can play in the construction of a more united Asia?
----------------------------------------------------------------------
When it comes to the diversity in Asia, you bump into difficulties, but I believe the construction of an Asian Union is happening. I think Asians should be more curious, should talk more to each other. People from different countries usually find a way to communicate, overcoming their cultural differences. So, I think communication can be a good start to unite Asians, and an easy way for young Asians to participate. Living in Taiwan, I am a bridge between the culture of my home country and the one I am experiencing here. I can introduce Vietnamese values and education to Taiwanese who also share with me the characteristics of their culture. In this sense, learning Chinese is a priority because it enhances mutual understanding.

5. What did you learn living in Taiwan that you would like to share with Vietnamese?
-------------------------------------------------------------------
I think everyone can learn something by traveling abroad, including new life habits you can reproduce at home. Vietnam is a developing country; most people’s priority is to make enough money to live decently, so they are not concerned by issues such as ‘protection of the environment’. Some of my classmates in Taiwan pick up garbage when we go hiking in the mountain or at the beach. Back in Vietnam I want to reproduce their behavior to influence maybe my friends and my family. A small circle of people can lead to a bigger impact.

6. How do you envision the importance of becoming a Chinese teacher?
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Chinese is the language most spoken in Asia, so learning it is a way to step into this Asian speaking Chinese dynamic. On one hand, teaching Chinese is a way for me to participate into the reinforcement of the importance of Chinese in the world and in Asia. On the other hand I can help Vietnamese to learn mandarin and use it for traveling, studying, or working in Asia. Education is a way to open young Vietnamese to the world, and teaching them Chinese is giving them more possibilities to participate in a global Asian evolution.

7. Which issues are the most important to you in the development process of Asia?
----------------------------------------------------------------
On one side, ecological issues are crucial, but realistically achievable only if the country is developed. So, the most important thing for Vietnam is to focus on educating the population. People who have received an education understand better what problems development brings and be more concerned by these issues.
On the other side, I think we must not lose our national identity in a changing Asia. Vietnamese, as other Asians, can share their values and show their country is developing well. It is important to be proud of one’s country because diversity will allow Asia to grow stronger.

8. What kind of Asia do you dream of in twenty years from now?
--------------------------------------------------------------
As most Asians, I wish for a more unified and developed Asia which should also be concerned by ecological issues. Most of all, I wish for a better access to education for all, even for the people living in remote places. It is said that Vietnam is the Taiwan of 30 years ago, but with the help of a stronger united Asia, I expect it will take less time for Vietnam to make full use of its huge market and to develop the national economy.

Reporter:

Attached media :

{rokbox}media/articles/MinhGlobalAsiaNew.jpg{/rokbox}

Friday, 09 November 2007

Hong-Kong : a bridge between China and the rest of Asia

 
Do you feel Asian?

Yes, I do know I am Asian but the identity as a Chinese overrides it. I inherited my sense of being a Chinese from my parents, as they came from Mainland China and we spoke a Chinese dialect, regardless of where we were in Cambodia or in Hong-Kong. They gave me my identity as a Chinese.
 
Yet I consider I have a strong attachment to Hong-Kong, as I was brought up since three in Hong-Kong, Hong-Kong people share a particular identity as it is a unique place in China and in the rest of Asia. We have always been a fusion where the Oriental and the Occidental influences meet. So being Chinese, I found myself distinctive from other Chinese from Mainland China or Taiwan for example.
 
By traveling in many Asian countries, I realized that Asian people from different countries are more similar to each other than what I thought. When I think of the concept of ‘being Asian’, I feel I am part of a bigger congregation. It involves much more to me than the only bond to China. I think that within a congregation which encompasses people from all Asian countries, we should have a stronger power.

Which role do you think HK can play in the construction of an ’Asian Union’?

I think of Asia as a very diverse continent. It is an amalgam of very different cultures where geographically close countries like China or Japan do not even share common history. I think these differences are quite too big to give an opportunity for Asia to unite. I can hardly see a chance to build in a near future a supra-national institution in Asia like the European Commission. What may really bring us together is money! Asian cooperation programs come more under a trade union.
 
However, I think it would be hard for Hong-Kong to fully integrate an Asian Union, if not through China. I don’t think that Hong-Kong can cooperate with other Asian countries which are strong already, like Japan, Korea... On the other hand, we have a huge gap with weaker countries. So, even at the economic level, I think cooperation is a challenge.
 
The influence and reliance of Mainland China is obvious and is also getting stronger in Hong-Kong. Yet, I think Hong-Kong should keep its well-established international status at the same time so as to gain its own autonomy and power and not totally rely on Mainland China. Otherwise the rise of the big cities in Mainland China will easily overtake Hong-Kong’s status in the future. China wants to be Number 1 on the Asian Regional scene. I think quite a lot of Hong-Kong people realize this point.
 
Hong-Kong has the advantage of the well-established infrastructure economically and socially. It can be a bridge between Mainland China and other Asian countries. Also, culturally, the hybrid of Oriental and Occidental influences is an advantage for Hong-Kong to maintain its particular status in Asia.

Which topic do you care the most about in a more united Asia?

I think environmental protection will be a central issue for going into global associations. Asian people can find more unity in facing global issues together I do not ignore the motivation of charity and humanity. Yet, it seems quite temporal, and the motivation behind the government policies is financial influence on each other. On the whole, it cannot be a strong tie.
 
I feel very concerned by building an union to tackle problems such as poverty or health issues. From December 2002 to March 2003, I joined OMF, a Christian missionary organization and went to Cambodia to serve in a hostel opened for the factory workers. I spent one month learning Khmer language. For a monththe hostel was closed because some Thai missionaries had been attacked in Cambodia. During that time I lived in a small orphanage with five physically disabled orphans. My cultural background helped me in widening my heart for different cultures and points of view. By doing missionary work, we try to arouse our congregation’s sense of compassion and awareness of what’s happening in other Asian countries.Personally, missionary work helps me to care more about other Asian people, rather than only stick to Hong-Kong people and Chinese.

In ten years from now, I can see that Asian countries will remain independent, with a stronger and stronger influence of Mainland China on all of them.
 
I hope to see an Asia with better living standards and Asians who care about others, especially about the ones living in poor countries. I think missionary work is a way to achieve more understanding between Asians. Knowing God’s love is a major help for people to gain love, care, and also real HOPE.


Monday, 21 May 2007

Taiwan and Europe: Past Interactions and Future Pursuits

Much of what we understand of the world, and what we know about the world, derives primarily from what we learn at school. In Taiwan we have known from a very young age about humanity’s four great ancient civilizations, Egyptian, Mesopotamia, Indian and Chinese respectively; later on we also learnt about the development and expansion of the Ancient Greek and Roman civilizations and finally the rise of Europe during the Renaissance. Intense creative activity began in Italy, and it soon spread all over Europe, progressively leading to an unprecedented full scale reform. Europe had stepped on to a well-paved road for development. From then its strength and power dominated the world for several hundred years. Europeans invaded the whole of Asia, coercing many to submit to their power, changing the collective lives and destinies of Asians, the effects of which went far and deep.
 
Our knowledge of Europe for the most part comes from fact. However it is difficult not to mix in an element of imagination. In my opinion, and I believe that many would share my thoughts on this; in terms of technology Europeans are without question superior, with their weapons, power and wealth, they exceed every country. Europeans utilized technology and developed powerful military force. It colonized and controlled vast areas of the world, and coerced many countries into abiding by their laws, and accepting their political hegemony and cultural influence that would be imposed on them and would change their lives.
 
The very first contact between Taiwan and Europe occurred during what can be referred to as an important stage in the history of mankind; the age of discovery. In 1544 a Portuguese fleet on their voyage east-ward along the seas of South-Eastern China, passed through the Taiwan Straits and arrived in Taiwan. As they looked into the distant vast emerald green ranges of Chong Mountain, they shouted ‘Ilha Formosa’. Not long after one after the other, the Spanish, Dutch landed on these shores and established political power, later British and French troops also arrived, and with trading and armed forces came European missionaries, explorers, naturalists. Western buildings, religion also began to appear in Taiwan. Furthermore Europeans began to recognize that Taiwan had its own distinctive Taiwanese local customs and practices.
 
Taiwan is unlike other Asian regions in that it has not been subjected to any direct long tern Western colonialist or Imperialist rule. It was unable however to escape 50 years of Japanese Colonialist rule. The Meiji Restoration saw the end of the Shoguanate Era, the Japenese not only learnt how to build boats and guns from Europe, they also followed Europe’s example in bringing together a democratic system, legislative politics. The Japanese even gathered information about European city infrastructure, art culture and many other areas of new knowledge and values.
 
The 50 years of Japanese rule thoroughly transformed Taiwan and left a profound impact on the lives of Taiwanese people. In other words, in many respects we adopted much of Western Culture through the Japanese, much like how the Japanese adopted Western culture. My father was a painter, he passed the entrance exam to the Tokyo Art School, and was greatly inspired by the Impressionist school; he loved Western art, especially French paintings and French art. I was greatly influenced by my father from quite a young age, and because of this I began to understand another important dimension of European art; artistic creation, in a more narrow sense of the term; culture.
 
The impact of European culture on people was immense. People glorified it, worshipped it. European culture drew people to want to learn more, to gain more knowledge. We are all too familiar with famous European literary works; these have even found their way into Chinese translated versions. Even works of famous European artists have also had their albums published in Chinese (although the quality of the print are not all good); I myself am deeply in love with European classical music and have even done an intensive study in this field. We in many respects want to pursue European popular fashion; we feel that it is an ultimate expression of elegance, luxury, modernism. This kind of mainstream culture dominates our tastes, and often just lap it all up.
 
Whether it was direct or indirect contact, interaction between Taiwan and Europe goes back three to four hundred years. After the Second World War, the Kuomintang government came to Taiwan and the Republic of China firmly took root and exercised its political power on Taiwanese soil. In 1964 France began to establish diplomatic relations with Mainland China, this created a domino effect and shortly after led to all other European countries ending diplomatic relations with Taiwan, leaving Taiwan to turn to the United States. And thus a barrier gradually formed between Taiwan and Europe. Under the ‘Kiss America’ policy American culture began to enter Taiwan in a big way. What is more, faced with the plight of international isolation most young Taiwanese students choose to go to America to study; thus only a very small amount of students would choose to go to Europe for higher education.
 
During the Age of Discovery Taiwan was in fact an important East-Asian stronghold. The mutual surge of interaction and exchange between its own internal culture and external foreign cultures created rich and diversified cultural developments. This was originally a big turning point in the making of ‘New Taiwanese culture’, however the realities at the international stage combined with the autocratic rule of the Kuomintang party greatly influenced any opportunity for a second dialogue between Taiwan and Europe. Another factor being to do with the central principles of Confucius Orthodoxy, inhibiting local native language and culture, making the younger generation uncertain of their own homeland. In fact their knowledge and understanding of the relations between Taiwan and the world can be said to me extremely limited.
 
Under my father’s influence, when I was 16 years old I chose to go to Europe to study music. I passed the entrance exam into a music school in Paris, France. In the place where my idols, great musicians Debussy and Hector Berlioz had resided and learnt, I realized my childhood musical dream. However this so-called musical fantasy was quite unexpectedly crushed on my first day in class by a mean teacher.
 
The majority of the students in my class were French. I still remember when my teacher asked me about my knowledge of music from where I come from, and even asked me to sing a few songs. I was stunned; apart from a catchy Taiwanese traditional folk ballad ‘look forward to love’ I couldn’t think of anything else, my mind had gone completely blank. That was a sharp warning for me. I gradually came to realize that learning things from other people no matter how outstanding they, you can never win. I had no way of being like any of the other students as I had no knowledge of my own country, my motherland Taiwan and therefore felt extremely ashamed. This experience made me go back to Taiwan in 1975, and it led to a process of Taiwanese cultural soul searching.
 
Several years later, due to a job posting and because of my experiences whilst being in Europe, I was able to look at Europe in quite a different light, one outside the sphere of culture and arts. In the past, people had it in their heads this idea of a great, glorious Europe. This later changed, with the rise of America. People began to have quite a dim, bleak impression of Europe. In its endeavor to integrate, the EU once again wanted to demonstrate on the world stage its endeavors to create civilization, and this time Taiwan noticed.
 
By the 25th of March 2007, the European Union had been established for 50 years. In the 50 years Europe has developed from a common market to a European organization made up of different countries seeking similar goals, with a desire to realize common aspirations of the European people; freedom, peace and anti-war. At the same time the organization gradually became a common entity for the development of politics, economics, defense and environmental protection. After consolidation of the so-called ‘inflexible debate’ partnership, in the recent 20 years Taiwan has once again slowly drifted into educational, cultural ‘soft power’ policies. By 1992 the Maastricht Treaty fully endowed the EU with many new powers, one of which included ‘cultural policies.’ In fact a ‘cultural’ law (Article 128) was devised and became a basis for countries within the European Community to recognize and follow as a common goal in all aspects of arts and cultural collaboration.
 
Consequently we can regard the European Cultural partnership in terms of molding a ‘European label,’ Firstly, an annual proposal must be firmly established. Since 1985 the European Council have held ‘European Capital of Culture’ event. That is to say every year one or two cities with cultural touristic appeal is chosen, and performances, exhibitions and other cultural activities are held in that city. Later the EU supported and took over coordinating the entire campaign, letting these cities come to life through a colorful array of cultural and artistic activities, and as far as annual traveling goes, it became the best selling point.
 
Secondly, in the 1997 Amsterdam Treaty, Article 128 was revised and re-documented as Article 151. It emphasized the role of the EU in supporting all activities that are based on respecting and promoting European culture, this is also a legal obligation. From then on ‘culture’ became a very important issue for the EU. According to Article 151, a series of guiding cultural principals and schemes were initiated, including the 1996-1999 ‘kaleodoscope’ which was aimed at encouraging artistic and cultural creation and teamwork, the 1997-1999 ‘Ariane’ plan of book publishing and reading translations, and finally in 1997-1999 the ‘Raphael’ plan of initiating policies related to world heritage and European distinctiveness. All these activities achieved the peak of its objective by the Millennium, that is the ‘2000 Culture’ plan to reach a budget of 230 million Euros within 7 years. It provided sponsorship funds to all related cultural projects, and through advocating the sharing of different cultures, build and construct a big common cultural circle.
 
In the construction and convergence of European space for higher education, the so called ‘Bologna declaration’ received the most attention and was also the most ambitious. In 1998, Heads of educational departments in France, Germany, Britain, and Italy signed the Paris University declaration and decided on ‘academic diploma standardization’; and then in 1999 the heads of educational departments in 29 countries announced the Bologna declaration and established a common consensus for the establishment of a ‘European space for higher education.’ Later in 2000 in light of the challenges brought on by globalization and the intellectual society, EU heads of state, collectively announced in a summit their hope of completing the ideas set out in the Bologna declaration by 2010. Hence in 2001 leaders of the EU educational world discussed ways in which to initiate these plans. Not long after, heads of educational departments at the Jan Assembly made several resolutions, these include; carrying out and integrating a higher level education system, having mutual acknowledgement of each country’s academic diploma and placing special emphasis on the importance of a ‘European label’ and European dimension - in the hopes that the curriculum, and the culture on school campus can preserve and carry forward each country’s educational and strong points in learning, further demonstrating an overall distinctive nature of European culture.
 
This year March 2007, EU’s latest ‘Cultural plan: 2007-2013’ has already formally been put into action, with the slogan ‘Leap over boundaries, connect cultures’. At the same time it appropriated a budget of 400 million Euros, allowing European citizens to unite unanimously in the concept of Europeanism, and identify in each others cultures, and sharing the fruits of development.
 
The EU, in setting into motion cultural activities, most recently the inauguration of the Musee du Quai Branly in June 2006, has left a deep impression on many Taiwanese people, in other words ‘the importance and value of respecting and carrying forward diversified culture.’ There is in fact no good or bad culture, I used to say, when faced with cultural matters or related constructions one must use ‘addition’ and ‘multiplication’ to think. It is only in this way that the ‘soil of culture’ is not left barren and that ‘culture’s flower’ can bloom and flourish.
 
At the time when Taiwan ended the worlds longest martial law rule in 1987 (it lasted for 38 years), it still carried on its ‘Nativist movement’ of the 70s and the democratic human rights movement of the 80s, and did so to its full capacity. The development of Taiwanese society and Taiwanese culture created a huge upheaval; it was as if Taiwan wanted to let it all out, express all kinds of emotions and feelings concerning the past. This of course led to many conflicts, but I sincerely believe that if we have the right direction and a grasp of our core values then Taiwan can attain a positive leading force to guide it.
 
In terms of Cultural development 2000 was an important year for Taiwan. The Democratic Progressive party won the people’s support and ended Kuomintang’s 50 year long rule. Through this event the value and importance of cultural diversification became apparent. The four main ethnic groups began to have more equal treatment. In comparison Europe, in the recent ten years or so, has been in the process of seeking to share culture diversity while identifying with an integration process, I can see that Taiwan is also moving in a similar direction and I can’t help but feel very excited about this.
 
Many of those who are passionate and love this country have gone and unearthed, sorted out and rebuilt many things that were valued in the past. The government has also in terms of native language education, in national education, in developing ethnicity, and cultural activities done much for making up for all the sorrow and pain the former party had caused. Take my post as head of the Commission of Cultural Affairs of the Executive Yuan as an example. During my term there I supervised the establishment of approximately 200 local cultural centers in every county. The publications included history, literature, plays, fine arts, music etc. there were up to about 600 different kinds of historical and biographical books. These and building up Taiwan’s National literary centre, traditional art centers and Taiwanese historical museums allow Taiwan’s valuable cultural, historical relics, and archives to never again be lost, as we can preserve, protect and study them.
 
I myself feel lucky that I have the opportunity to go from a past where any discussion of ‘Taiwan’ was taboo, to the present where ‘studying Taiwan’ has now become a popular and international topic of discussion.
 
In the 80s, local historians and historical researchers in the scholarly and academic world set out to reorganize and establish a foundation for ‘Taiwanese research.’ Afterwards; elementary schools began to add native language education and native teaching materials on to the curriculum. Up until today, higher level education organizations have about 17 departments linked with the study and research of Taiwan. And I myself in 1995 wrote and published ‘100 years of Taiwanese music 1985-1995” and in 2004 after leaving a strenuous job as head of the cultural division I began to develop the discussion on “Diamond Taiwan”:
 
Taiwan only takes up 0.023% of the earth’s total area; despite this however 10 percent of the world’s distinct and diverse species reside on the island. Its unique geographic location creates wonderful natural landscapes and ecosystems. Wildlife habitat and climatic zone is first rate. Apart from that, Taiwan is home to Austronesian aborigines, who have developed their own Taiwanese mountain and sea cultures, in the past 100 years, due to a few accidental occurrences in history, they began to develop predominantly Chinese based cultural characteristics, and a blend of Western and Japanese features is also evident. This all makes Taiwan very much like a diamond, small yet beautiful and sparkly, an island not to be overlooked.
 
At the end of May 2006, the national cultural association organized a ‘the whole world loves Taiwan’ historical international seminar. Over 3 hundred years ago Taiwan was Holland’s colony, now her representative sits amongst other international scholars as an honored guest to share amongst themselves the ‘study of Taiwan.’
 
I have a French friend, she is quite an ardent student of Taiwanese anthropology, she came to Taiwan 20 years ago under the guidance of her professor. She spent years and months on a field study about the belief and social organizations and practices amongst people of Southern Taiwan. She told me things about Taiwanese religion, customs and ceremonies that I had no idea about; this made me feel deeply ashamed, and I was determined to understand and learn more about my birthplace The National Cultural organization published ‘new life water magazine’, in Jan and March 2007 also saw the publication of ’10 major Taiwanese folk rituals’ ’The 10 major rituals of Taiwanese Aborigines” This enabled me to look at Taiwan in a different light and allowed me to appreciate, understand the beauty and allure of Taiwanese culture on a more deeper and meaningful level.
 
Due to political imprisonment in the past I was unable to complete compulsory classroom ‘Taiwanese credits.’ But these past several years, private and public efforts have given me a good opportunity to make up for the loss I had incurred, and have also made me value and cherish Taiwan even more - a rare gem, a country exceptionally rich in natural resources, and a diverse cultural history.
 
To start off with I had said that Europe’s contributions to the development and rise of civilization is exceptional, from philosophy, literature, the arts, science and even the influence of most recent history’s democratic stream of thought. Europe has always been the vanguard in writing history. The EU had exerted greater efforts in recognizing and valuing the importance of cultural diversification, and has even created a new magnificent vision and plan of action, in the attempt to once again head start a new era of convergence of European values.
 
However at the same time, I deeply believe that Europeans and their knowledge and understanding of Asia, especially Taiwan is not enough. When I was young, studying in France, many classmates the same age as me told me, when they were in middle school they had never studied anything to do with Asian history, Asian thought, religion, art or ancient civilizations, it was simply not a part of their curriculum. If they wanted to know about it they had to find a way to get a hold of information. We of course know that over a half of the world’s population live in Asia, The fact that teaching materials in European schools neglect to mention Asia, means that at the time the education bureau were neglecting any dialogue between other civilizations and cultures. What is more in October 2004, I followed the Taiwanese foreign office to Britain, France, Germany, Belgium to call on governments and congressmen, and discovered that a lot of people have a very hazy impression and lack of understanding about Taiwan. But I also found that if we use the subject of culture and art to initiate communication and sharing, we would very quickly draw in the distance between us, and perhaps at the same time leave an impression and an interest in Taiwan.
 
When Europe, through education and culture reached a common understanding, established a sense of cohesiveness and identification amongst its citizens, Miles away in Taiwan; the world’s tiniest island, after experiencing political and economic reform was also seeking similar goals, and in the major process of integrating a national identity, at the same time it was also utilizing its rich cultural and artistic treasures to internally mould a common vision amongst its people, and externally to open up to the world.
 
In 2008 Taiwan will once again be electing a new president; I would like to use this opportunity to sincerely express my expectations and deepest hope that Taiwan’s future development will place culture as its core value and the importance of education as its main project. Through these elements a new vision of Taiwan can be created. In this respect we must follow in America’s footsteps and establish our own developments. At the same time we must pay attention to and observe the methods and practices that the EU take, and examine carefully not only their strategies but the philosophical background and thought, the logic and procedures that are needed to carry through their major projects, and what is more recognize its everlasting values.
 
I also deeply hope and wish that Taiwan, which has already set an example amongst the world’s overseas Chinese societies in its ability for democratic reform and cultural coherence, will be able to have more active and substantial interactions with Europe and generate greater accomplishments on the world’s cultural atlas!
 
Speech pronounced at the International Conference on "Cultural Diversity and Sustainable Development, a Dialogue between Taiwan and Europe", Kaohsiung, 25, 26 may 2007
 

Thursday, 28 December 2006

China and Africa

In November 2006, leaders of China and 48 African nations pledged to form a new strategic partnership and adopted an action plan to deepen political and economic links over the next three years. The pledges came as trade deals worth US$1.9 billion were signed during the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation summit.

The year 2006 saw the number of Chinese tourists to Africa double to over 200,000. Most of them went to Africa to search for business opportunities and Kenya was often the gateway. Official statistics showed that between 2000 and 2005, trade between China and Africa increased from just under 10 billion U.S. dollars to nearly 40 billion U.S. dollars, and is likely to surpass 50 billion dollars in 2006 and hit 80 billion dollars in 2010. China is rapidly becoming one of Africa’s main sources of investment. By the end of September 2006, China had established more than 800 enterprises in the continent, involving a total investment of 11 billion U.S. dollars. During the November 2006 Summit, Premier Wen Jiabao pledged that China would launch a 5-billion-U.S.-dollar China-Africa Development Fund.

At the same time, China’s action as a lender is creating a new wave of hidden debt in Africa as it backs its companies’ expansion overseas with increasingly aggressive lending. A report prepared by the IMF and World Bank shows China is the largest of six new creditor nations. The others are Kuwait, Brazil, India, South Korea and Saudi Arabia. It said lending by China had risen to US$ 5 billion in 2004. In exchange China gets access to energy supplies and raw materials. China has committed $8.1 billion this year to Nigeria, Angola and Mozambique, according to World Bank figures. Nigeria this year agreed to provide a drilling license to Chinese companies in exchange for a US$ 4 billion commitment to improve infrastructure, including a 1,800 kilometer railway. China gets 25 per cent of its oil from Angola and Sudan, which is boycotted by other states for the genocide in Darfur. Chinese loans raise the prospect of a renewed debt crisis in Africa, just a year after the world’s rich nations agreed to forgive as much as US$57 billion of debt.

In some African countries some voices are already criticizing Chinese practices. “There is a risk that some governments in Africa may use Chinese money in the wrong way to avoid pressure from the West for good government,” said recently the minister of Public Sector Reform in Ghana, which is seeking a $1.2 billion loan from China for a hydro-electric dam and rural electrification. Meanwhile in South Africa merchants are complaining that the invasion of Chinese products is killing the local economy.

Attached media :
{rokbox}media/articles/ma_chineafrique00_en.jpg{/rokbox}

Thursday, 28 December 2006

China and Africa

In November 2006, leaders of China and 48 African nations pledged to form a new strategic partnership and adopted an action plan to deepen political and economic links over the next three years. The pledges came as trade deals worth US$1.9 billion were signed during the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation summit.

The year 2006 saw the number of Chinese tourists to Africa double to over 200,000. Most of them went to Africa to search for business opportunities and Kenya was often the gateway. Official statistics showed that between 2000 and 2005, trade between China and Africa increased from just under 10 billion U.S. dollars to nearly 40 billion U.S. dollars, and is likely to surpass 50 billion dollars in 2006 and hit 80 billion dollars in 2010. China is rapidly becoming one of Africa’s main sources of investment. By the end of September 2006, China had established more than 800 enterprises in the continent, involving a total investment of 11 billion U.S. dollars. During the November 2006 Summit, Premier Wen Jiabao pledged that China would launch a 5-billion-U.S.-dollar China-Africa Development Fund.

At the same time, China’s action as a lender is creating a new wave of hidden debt in Africa as it backs its companies’ expansion overseas with increasingly aggressive lending. A report prepared by the IMF and World Bank shows China is the largest of six new creditor nations. The others are Kuwait, Brazil, India, South Korea and Saudi Arabia. It said lending by China had risen to US$ 5 billion in 2004. In exchange China gets access to energy supplies and raw materials. China has committed $8.1 billion this year to Nigeria, Angola and Mozambique, according to World Bank figures. Nigeria this year agreed to provide a drilling license to Chinese companies in exchange for a US$ 4 billion commitment to improve infrastructure, including a 1,800 kilometer railway. China gets 25 per cent of its oil from Angola and Sudan, which is boycotted by other states for the genocide in Darfur. Chinese loans raise the prospect of a renewed debt crisis in Africa, just a year after the world’s rich nations agreed to forgive as much as US$57 billion of debt.

In some African countries some voices are already criticizing Chinese practices. “There is a risk that some governments in Africa may use Chinese money in the wrong way to avoid pressure from the West for good government,” said recently the minister of Public Sector Reform in Ghana, which is seeking a $1.2 billion loan from China for a hydro-electric dam and rural electrification. Meanwhile in South Africa merchants are complaining that the invasion of Chinese products is killing the local economy.

Attached media :
{rokbox}media/articles/ma_chineafrique00_en.jpg{/rokbox}

Tuesday, 10 October 2006

China and the World: from Assistance to Partnership

(Beijing, October 2005)

China and the world are changing at light speed. All traditional models for international relations appear obsolete.

New paradigms have to be invented and as a citizen of a middle size country with experience of economic and political integration in a wider Union, I am most interested in the Chinese efforts for finding China’s own way to discharge fully her own responsibilities in this world environment. In this respect, its recent contribution to the debate on world political organisation appeared to me of the highest importance.

Being an economist and having managed the International Monetary Fund for 13 years, I would like to concentrate on the economic aspects of regional and global governance, and try to identify a few elements of the world’s experiences of the last decades China could take advantage of in defining its own approaches.

Download the article in pdf


Wednesday, 04 October 2006

中國‧台灣與國際社會

【楊麗貞 譯】

中國至今仍充滿矛盾…雖然她的成長腳步從未放慢,
但伴隨著快速發展而來的,卻是不穩定、緊張、及與日俱增的危機。
不論是國際社會或台灣,都不應操弄這些危機,因為世界需要一個繁榮開放的中國。

社會經濟與戰略危機

中國最明顯的危機與社會安定有關:醫療衛生系統的失敗(國家僅資助16%,遠低於大部分工業化國家的平均70%);城鄉差距不斷深化;就學率明顯不均,由於教育私營化之故,許多農民家庭付不起中學甚至小學的學費;示威抗議事件的暴增,它們大多和貪污腐敗、礦業工業災害,及政商關係良好的高幹所擁有工廠的污染事件有關。根據官方的資料,二○○四年全中國總計發生超過七萬起以上的社會運動,相較於幾年前,卻還不到一萬起…
經濟和財政上的危機同樣顯著:即在經濟過熱之下,全球需求的減緩,可能使投資過度,或失業率方面的危機更加劇烈。生態和衛生系統方面亦是弊端處處:全中國有三分之二的水道源頭遭到污染;能源危機日益升高;大規模傳染病(如禽流感)警訊頻傳、愛滋病的爆發…
再者,戰略上的緊張也不容輕忽:目前中國和日本的關係仍然僵化難解;而對台灣的施壓越重,反而越助長台灣意識;北韓危機絲毫沒有解決;在與印度的關係方面,即使兩大國允諾相互合作,一種潛在的敵對競爭卻正在成形…
此外,中國出口的持續成長,以及人民幣遲遲未能升值,使得西方輿論越發懷疑中國政府有「表裡不一」之嫌:嘴裡喊著「和平崛起」,其實骨子裡企圖利用對於廉價勞工的剝削,來塑造一個掌控全球經濟的環境。
最後是政治上的險局,以上這些危機的任何一項一旦爆發,將會削弱目前的領導班子。在此同時,北京仍持續嚴厲地控制媒體,使得新聞界和網路社群的挫折感日益加深。然而政治上的變動,即使只是部分的,其本身都會帶來非常大的危險,因為伴隨而來的必然是民粹運動,絕非民主。即使中共解放軍自一九八○年以來都服從於這個政權,但軍隊仍然是一個主要因素。

中國被孤立了嗎?

根據民調顯示,絕大部分的中國人一直認為,他們的國家「沒有朋友」。是令人敬畏也好,使人羨慕也罷,就是不受尊重。中國人民這種孤立感,有可能進一步造成緊張的升高:中國或許會在與世隔絕和積極對外之間猶豫不決,甚或關起門來自求脫困。我認為,這一點無論如何都要加以避免。世人應該要懂得安撫中國人,並一再地告訴他們,世界需要中國。因為她的文化、傳統,她的活力和人文資源…更簡單地說,即是中國也需要世界。因為中國將會面臨的危機,與世人是一樣的:即環保、傳染病、貧窮、國際貿易法規…我們應該學習以夥伴關係共存,而不是競爭對立──而要達到這點,任何一方都需要有所改變。
如果中國想要克服內部和外部的緊張,她應該成為一個良善治理全球的積極夥伴。她應該站到第一線,率先採取措施以對抗氣候暖化(更何況她也是始作俑者之一)、預防流行病的發生、保障勞工權益、裁減軍備…等。
若中國能挺身而出,扮演積極和負責任的夥伴,致力於國際社會的團結及更理想的全球治理,那麼這不僅符合中國的利益,也是世界之福。事實上,這些正是強權國家應盡的責任。坦白說,西方國家一直未能在這方面明智地善盡本份。但無疑地,和一個終於不再僵化的中國形成夥伴關係,可使我們學習更有效地共同治理手中這個脆弱的世界。

台灣方面呢?

前面這番論調,在台灣並不是很能夠被接受。事實上,台灣越來越分裂為兩種潮流,然而依照我的看法,兩方的反應都是短視的。那些試圖利用中國的成長,到大陸定居或投資的人,對中國的人文和政治發展關切太少。他們的此種選擇純粹是個人性的,而非集體性的。而那些推動政治自治的人似乎認為,所有對中國的壞消息,就是台灣的好消息。中國越「失意」,台灣就越「得意」。但由於這種主張無法說服國際輿論,因為咸認廣大中國的份量不斷加重。這使台灣越發孤立,台灣社會內部的分裂更是一日甚過一日。
我認為,對台灣有利的作法是,表達出希望中國能夠成為國際夥伴關係中重要和建設性的行為者;何況台灣在中國大陸也挹注了大量資金。但是,台灣也應該堅持中國必須成為一個更負責任的國際夥伴。未來,只要中國越感覺到無保留地被接受,她就越容易傾向「和平」,不只是口說而已,而是落實於行動。國際社會若能全然接受中國,這點將對台灣有很大的幫助。孤立中國只會使她變得更具侵略性。
這些年來,「中國第一」的口號在大陸上喊得震天價響。今天,包括台灣人、中國人和外國人,我們是否也可以一起喊出「世界第一」呢?

【人籟論辨月刊第22期,2005年12月】

邀請您再讀一篇魏明德的文章
----------------------------------
訂閱人籟

附加的多媒體:
{rokbox}media/articles/Matrix_TwChina_ct.jpg{/rokbox}
Page 2 of 3

Help us!

Help us keep the content of eRenlai free: take five minutes to make a donation

AMOUNT: 

Join our FB Group

Browse by Date

« January 2019 »
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31      

We have 3687 guests and no members online