Erenlai - Items filtered by date: Wednesday, 07 November 2007
Wednesday, 07 November 2007 23:51

The basis for an Asian Union is global reform

Asian unity will still take time and mutual efforts

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There is no realistic perspective in the near future for an Asian Union
“I feel Asian, not only because I was born in Asia, but also because I am of a mixed Asian ethnic background, Dennis said. He has had an identity crisis since he was a child. “Because my parents are Chinese, my Philippines friends think I am a Chinese, but I hold a Philippine citizenship. So, I identify myself as an oriental person”, explained Dennis. His particularity raised his awareness towards the concept of being Asian, but he acknowledges Asian Unity involves much more than a personal feeling.
Dennis said “The European Union is a ‘nice’ example of a working model for Asia, but I seriously doubt we can build such a unity among Asians. Asia is too mixed”. Indeed, it involves poor, developing and developed countries, and countries with different political systems working together. Another example of diversity is the different religions in Asia, which he thinks are an important component of the cultures in Asia. “So, where to start?” asked Dennis. According to him, one should look at the achievements of ASEAN, the only Asian supra-national association in Asia, in which the Philippines is a member country. “ASEAN measures have increased bilateral trade relationships within Southeast Asia, but failed to build, up to now, a real multilateral cooperation unity. Also, ASEAN still relies heavily on the western markets. Overall it is not a very supportive association in Southeast Asia” Dennis said. Instead of regrouping all Asian countries together, he thinks it would be more viable to divide Asia into different zones which would try to cooperate with each other: “chopsticks” countries zone, oriental countries zone, Malay countries zone…

Capitalist mentality is a barrier to Asian unity
There has never been any real unity in Asia up to now. Asian countries developed by themselves without the support of any common organization. In this sense, Dennis thinks mutual help for development in Asia is not a realistic option. He said “If developed countries would support developing countries, it would be great, but it is not happening. On the contrary, there is a tendency for exploitation”. The last few years, in Asia, developed and developing countries have been using the cheap labor of their neighbor countries. “Capitalist mentality focus on ‘how much profit I can make’ instead of ‘how much help I can give’”, Dennis deplored. As an example, he said a Taiwanese company invested in the production of semi-conductors in the Philippines in the past, but delocalized in another Asian country after finding a cheaper production place. He said “It is not a concrete help. We cannot plan anything on what seems to rely on a short term investment policy rather than on a real cooperation plan. In order to build a Union, we cannot only focus on making profits, we also need to change our mentalities.”

“Where to start?”
“The basis for a Union is reform in some of the governments of Southeast Asian countries. When the governments are motivated by their self-interests, the needs of the populations are never met”, he said. The Philippines is a democratic country since long ago, but there is a still a high rate of corruption within the national government, which needs to be minimized. “It is the problem of a good political system led by inadequate leaders”, Dennis said. He thinks that Philippine people can be a good example for some other Asian countries. The Philippines have resources of many well-educated people who call for democracy in a non-violent way. However, nothing really changed in their lives. They have a hard time to find a good job, and they are tired of demonstrating for better political leaders. “Most people are concerned by their survival, and need to rely on themselves, so it is hard for them to focus on further development perspectives”, Dennis said. However, 80% of the Philippines population is Catholic, which gives another dimension to their lives. “Looking at the example of the Philippines, we understand better why building an Asian Union is difficult to imagine; it involves so many countries and many governments to change”.

JPIC actions help to promote awareness in the Asian world
Dennis is working with the Association of Major Religious Superiors Taiwan, ‘Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) group’ as the JPIC provincial coordinator of the Society of the Divine Word in Taiwan. It is an international organization in which people try to raise awareness in the world. Their actions concern the whole humanity, but as he represents Taiwan, he is part of the Asia Pacific Zone of the association. “It is important to focus our actions within zones, not to drain out our energies and resources”, he said. The United Nations set as International Day of Peace the 21st of September. Although Taiwan is not part of the United Nations, along with other religious communities, a prayer had been set for peace activity in which people could see different forms of violence happening in the world: human trafficking, political conflicts… Through advocacy, they aim to raise the awareness of the Taiwanese to starvation in the world or Workers’rights in Asia… Dennis said, “The important point is that I am not working alone, all the coordinators and other collaborators work for a common purpose, for the same goals”. They meet once a month to share their views and get a better picture of the world. as well as to build networks within Asia. “We may be unable to influence political changes through our actions, but we can open the minds of Asian people, hoping that one day our leaders will listen to the people. I have always believed in the importance of the role of the citizens who can voice out their needs”, Dennis said.

How do you envision Asia in twenty years from now?
“I hope Asia will be overall more developed, that Asians will experience less poverty and corruption. I hope people will be able to travel and exchange their views freely, without any governmental restrictions. One more attainable wish is that Asian countries will try to mutually help each other and not exploit each others’ natural or human resources”.

Reporter: A. Kernaleguen

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