Erenlai - 按日期過濾項目: 週一, 26 十一月 2007
週二, 27 十一月 2007 00:57

Asian Youth: Unity Among Diversity?

Thursday, October 11, 3pm, Chinese teacher Hsiao and her students discuss about ‘Asia development’ during a Chinese class at National Taiwan University, Chinese Language Training and Testing Center.

“In the past, conflicts used to unite or separate Asian nations. Now, economic ties link some Asian countries, while excluding others from this dynamic.”
--Hsiao, a young Taiwanese woman

“Constructing an Asian identity requires the combined efforts of all Asians. Japan has to give up its historical imperialistic role, and opens up to a new vision of Asia.”
--Zhaozi, a young Japanese woman

“South Koreans are culturally close to Chinese, but I hope China could step down from communism to help better Asia to develop”
--Xianmei, a young Korean woman

“In the trend of booming economies in Asia, I hope governments will take actions to promote sustainable development, using our European experience. I believe Asia development can affect the whole world, positively but also in a negative way”
Laura, a young British woman

Dialogue is the key to increase understanding
When young Asians interact, exchange ideas, they increase common understanding, and raise their awareness of the heritage they share. They bring the sense of ‘being Asian’ to a higher level. They all come from different Asian countries, have diverse backgrounds, but they overcome their differences through face-to-face dialogue. Living in Taiwan and learning Chinese, another Asian language, they start to think of what Asia means to them, and what links them to each other. By doing so, together, they take the first step towards building a common identity, a ‘we identity’. These young Asians might not become economists or politicians with direct influence on decision making, but they have wishes for Asia’s future development and possible unity. In this sense, their thinking is at the root of tomorrow’s multi-cultural face of Asia.

Asia is diversity
Asia is a combination of many cultures, countries with different stages of development and diverse economic levels. Geographically, Asia is the biggest continent in the world, is home to 60% percent of the human’s population, and is largely a succession of islands, which makes it harder for the people to interact and cooperate with each other. Most of the young Asians interviewed in this issue drew different borders while conceptualizing Asia. On the one hand, Northeast Asians often failed to integrate Western Asian countries in their vision of Asia. Indians and Pakistanis, on the other hand, were tempted to consider Afghanistans and Turkish people in the global picture of Asia.
China and Japan have displayed their economic power in East Asia, they contributed to strengthened intra-regional identities in this part of Asia. Now, they need to learn to accept diversity in Asia and integrate regional cooperation, up to West Asia. The merging economy of India makes it a new regional leader country. Hence, current coordination in Asia also needs to include Western Asia and its population in the Asian dynamic.

China and India learn to work together
Many of the young interviewees expressed their concern over the fast growing economies of these two big countries in Asia. Jointly, China and India inhabit 40 percent of the world’s population. However, their development is a recent phenomenon and the countries will need many more years to grow mature and learn how to work together. Indeed, a pre-condition to ensure regional stability and peace is to have strong and stable countries which can lead the construction of an Asian Union. It is also important that this leadership can take interventionist actions in case a conflict happens in Asia, unlike ASEAN which loses of its credibility in the current Myanmar crisis.
In the interviews, some of the young were concerned with the military buildup of China, which, along with its economic growth, creates a ‘non peaceful development’ process, generating fear and mistrust. And India has undergone conflicts with its big neighbor Pakistan. The two countries need to learn to accept open regionalism to achieve their strategic role in Asia. At the national level, they are very good example of diversity in which ethnic groups unite as a nation. The national motto of India is ‘Unity among diversity’. Multi-cultural interaction is part of daily life and it gives hope for Asians to reproduce this model at a supra-national level.

Peace is the driving motto
The young Asians interviewed in this issue come from Vietnam, India, Japan, Taiwan, Pakistan…. Some grew up in communist developing countries, while some others enjoy freedom in developed countries. However, they all shared the same wishes for Asia in twenty years. They like to envision an Asia more homogeneously developed, in which poverty will be reduced to a great extend. They also wish for a better access to education for all Asians, and above all they wished for an Asia in which ‘peace’ is the driving motto. One can all learn from their thinking and their awareness of what nowadays development will turn into tomorrow’s challenges. A general raise in the education of Asians would improve their capacity to face together critical issues as global warming or protection of the environment. It would also contribute to raise their sense of responsibility in a global Asian community.
Reading the interviews Ali the Pakistani and Dennis from the Philippines, one will understand how religions, deeply rooted in Asian cultures, can promote common understanding between Asians. Through the interview of Manoj, the Nepalese, one will see how he implements actions with other Asians in NGOs to preserve the environment of his country, and allow education access for Nepalese orphans. Hopefully, their actions will be a source of inspiration for others to follow their path and take action now in favor of a more united Asia.

Towards the construction of Asian Union
In many ways, Asia seems too diverse to unite and the main powers in Asia are not ready to lead other towards unity yet. Politicians encounter difficulties when trying to make different political regimes work together, and economic ties fail to bring integration. However, Asians travel and experience multi-cultural lives. Three of our young interviewees, Liana from Indonesia, Minh Thanh Vu from Vietnam, and Ali Khan came to Taiwan to get a better education or a better job opportunity. They want to reproduce in their home country the positive sides they saw in Taiwan, and they believe they can learn from their Asian cousins.
In this sense, they rethink Asia and imagine strategic roles their home country could play in the process of the construction of an Asia Union. Even if their wishes are not always realistic; the spirit among the Asian youth is here, and at this early stage of the Asian Unity process, Asia need young visionaries. Diversity is a challenge, but it is also the richness from which people can imagine a future that is truly theirs.
Young Asians’ interviews

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週二, 27 十一月 2007 00:52

Asia As Its Youth Dreams It

Japan, India, China, Taiwan, The Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Vietnam, Nepal…

Asia is a fuzzy concept but a felt reality. “Being Asian” means to relate to history in a way that differs from the one that is proper to Europe, America or Africa. It means also to relate to an array of spiritual and religious ethos that differs from the ones that have taken shape in the other continents. Asia is also united by its shared experience both of poverty and of accelerated growth. And it now has to deal with the ecological and social consequences of development and urbanization.

Being Asian means also to live in a divided continent, still torn apart by the consequences of WWII and the Cold War, a continent that is looking for its frontiers and its unity, a continent where risks of war are still serious.

What kind of Asia is its youth dreaming of? Can Asia reconcile with itself and invent a model of transnational cooperation? Can the Asian model go beyond economic growth and include politics, culture and the environment as well?

For several months now, Renlai has been asking a number of young Asians to tell us about the continent they are dreaming of: what territory does it encompass? Can Asia reconcile with itself? What kind of cooperation would make Asia a more united and cooperative continent: elimination of tariffs barriers? New military or political alliances? Cultural or inter-religious cooperation? Citizens’ coalitions focusing on the environment? How do they envision the state of the Asian continent twenty years from now?

Their answers look like a mosaic or a puzzle: they seem to be little pieces hard to connect together but, when you find the way, they do show us a larger design, a composition and purpose that may awaken in all of us hope and a sense of action.

For sure, Taiwan, in Asia, feels itself cornered in a very uncomfortable situation and resents the fact to be somehow marginalized. However, Taiwan needs to connect with the thinkers and activists who make Asia slowly become a more concrete reality. The worst-case scenario for Taiwan would be to encourage its own isolation by putting itself apart of Asian currents of thought. The Taiwanese experience can enrich the debate on the way national identities need to be reshaped and transcended so as to invent the Asia of tomorrow. May this issue of Renlai contribute to a debate that will prove to be of vital importance in the global history of the twenty-first century.

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週二, 27 十一月 2007 00:27

An Asian institution to help poorer countries

You are born in Indonesia but you grew up in a Chinese family in Jakarta. Did you come to Taiwan to experience Chinese culture?
I was born in Sumatra, so I am Indonesian. My parents migrated from Fujian, a Province in Mainland China. At home, we speak Taiwanese, the dialect spoken in Fujian, and we celebrate Chinese festivities, we eat moon cakes for the Mid-Autumn festival… My family environment gave me a second identity as a Chinese. I think culture is created by daily habits and customs including food, language, traditions... In this sense, Southeast Asian culture is very different from the Chinese one. Coming to Taiwan strengthened this idea. Having two Asian identities makes me feel Asian.
My dad wanted me to go to China to find out more about my roots. But, I wanted to leave Indonesia to go to a developed country and get better work opportunities. Most Southeast Asian migrants go to South Korea, Singapore, Japan and also Taiwan. They leave everything behind to work in factories or marry men they have never met before. Being Indonesian, you cannot afford to refuse the money this new life can provide. I have been living in Taiwan for two years. Receiving an education gave me the chance to make more money and get a better job than most immigrants. I am currently working for a Taiwanese company doing translation work for Indonesian migrants. Although a big part of my job consists in dealing with ARC, work contracts etc, I also have the opportunity to help them raise their claims or complaints to their employers. Most of them do not speak Chinese and are mistreated. I am often indignant to see how Northeast Asians underestimate us assuming we have no abilities because we come from a poor country. If we are all Asians, why does this attitude exist? There will be no unity in Asia as long as people from rich countries feel they have the right to exploit people from poorer countries.

Indonesia is one of the ten ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) member countries. Do you think a bigger Asian Union could help better develop Indonesia?
ASEAN’s cooperation programs with Indonesia are precious help for the national economy. However, Indonesians need to learn what unity is, they also need to think about the future. Many Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam and Thailand are developing fast, but Indonesia lags behind. The national crisis in 1998 resulted in many locals’ assuming that foreigners only come to Indonesia to exploit the resources of the country. Because most Indonesians do not have access to education, I feel their mindset reflects a lack of understanding about how cooperation can benefit their country.
I feel there is also a lack of communication between the Indonesian government and the Indonesian population, and it slows down the development of the country. Most Indonesians do not trust the national government’s decisions, and at the same time expect them to enhance their standard of living. Moreover, Indonesian territory is a succession of small islands. This geographical feature, often found in Asian countries, is a strong barrier for the unity of a country.
However, I believe Asian unity is needed for the development of Indonesia. I think supra-national Asian institutions could help developing countries’ governments to set more stable governmental policies. It would also help to lower corruption and crime rates. In this sense, I believe Asian unity could help the future of Indonesians. If the situation was more stable, I would be very happy to go back and work in Indonesia.

Which topic do you cherish about the development of Asia?
I hope in the future Asia will be able to help Indonesia to develop. But I think Asian unity is not only about economic development. Too often, money spoils the populations of modern societies. Living in a poor country, we know what hard work is, and we know how to survive in critical situations. In fact, we should be proud to be Indonesian, although too often I feel we are underestimated.
Even though family values are very important in the developed countries of North East Asia, people are becoming more and more individual. I often see in the streets of Taipei old people collecting boxes to resell and making barely enough money to survive. I hope during Indonesia’s development we will never lose our sense of family responsibility. My dream would be to contribute to helping Asians to realize that the old generation reflects greatly on who we are today. In developing societies, we should not forget to thank their efforts. The least we can do is to take care of them and include them in all of the benefits that a developing Asia brings. In the future, I wish to run care centers in Asian countries welcoming old people. I want it to be my small contribution; my way of giving to the unity of Asia a more ‘humane face’.


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