东盟和欧盟:同与不同 (ASEAN vs EU )




July 01, 2017

This is a big year for ASEAN and the EU.  ASEAN is celebrating its 50th anniversary.  The EU is celebrating its 60th anniversary.  The EU, notwithstanding the decision by the UK to leave the union, is often referred to as the most successful regional organization in the world.  ASEAN is often referred to as the second most successful regional organization.

In this essay, I would like to compare and contrast the similarities and differences between ASEAN and the EU.  I will begin with the similarities.


The first similarity is that both are regional organizations with legal personalities.  The EU has 28 members and will have 27 in March 2019.  ASEAN has 10 members with Timor Leste knocking on the door.

The second similarity is that both were founded to promote peace.  The EU was founded, after two disastrous world wars, to prevent the recurrence of war in Europe and to institutionalize peace through economic integration.  ASEAN was founded to create a peaceful environment in Southeast Asia so that the ASEAN countries could focus their energies on their economic development.

The third similarity is that both seek to integrate the economies of their member states into a single market and production platform.  In the case of the EU, there is freedom of movement of goods, services, capital and labour.  In the case of ASEAN, the movement labour is not free.  The ASEAN Charter only obliges the member states to facilitate the movement of business persons, professionals, talents and labour.  This is a major difference between ASEAN and the EU.

The fourth similarity is that both organizations share a commitment to human rights.  The EU has a Charter of Fundamental Rights and ASEAN has a Declaration of Human Rights.  The ASEAN Charter contains several provisions in its Preamble, Purposes and Principles, on human rights.  ASEAN has two commissions on human rights:  (1)  the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights;  and (2)  the Commission on the Rights of Women and Children.  However, the EU has a Court of Human Rights, in addition to the Court of Justice and Court of Auditors.  ASEAN does not have a court.

The fifth similarity is that both ASEAN and the EU have concluded many free trade agreements or comprehensive economic partnership agreements with other countries.  For example, the EU and Singapore have concluded a free trade agreement which is pending ratification.  ASEAN has concluded such agreements with China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand but not with the EU.

The sixth similarity is that both ASEAN and the EU hold regular political and economic dialogues with important external partners.  The EU holds annual summits with the US, China, Japan, Russia, etc.  ASEAN has created three forums to engage its external partners, namely, the ASEAN Regional Forum, ASEAN Plus Three and the East Asia Summit.  In addition, ASEAN holds bilateral dialogues with its 10 Dialogue Partners.  Finally, ASEAN holds an annual summit with the US, China, India, Japan and South Korea.


There are several important differences between ASEAN and the EU.  The first difference is that ASEAN is an intergovernmental organization.  The EU, in contrast, is a supranational organization in which its member states have agreed, in certain areas, such as trade, to pool their sovereignties.  In other words, the member states have voluntarily agreed to give up part of their sovereignty.  The pooled sovereignty is exercised by the European Commission on behalf of the member states.

The second difference is that the EU has a common currency called the euro.  Only 19 of the EU’s 28 members are members of the Eurozone.  ASEAN does not have a common currency and has no plans to do so.  However, in the aftermath of the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, ASEAN together with China, Japan and South Korea launched the so-called Chiang Mai Initiative.  The project brings together the 13 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors.  Their agenda is to promote greater financial cooperation among the 13 countries.

The third difference is that the EU has a Parliament and ASEAN does not.  The European Parliament has the power to legislate as well as the power to veto budgets and appointments.  ASEAN has the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly which has only the power of moral suasion.

The fourth difference is that the EU has a very powerful Secretariat called the European Commission and ASEAN has a relatively small and weak Secretariat.  The European Commission acts like a government and is entitled to enter into treaties.  The Commission has the power to put forward proposals for legislation.  The ASEAN Charter has enhanced the power of the Secretary-General.  One of his most important responsibilities is to issue an annual report card on each member state’s compliance with its obligations.

The fifth difference is in the decision-making process.  ASEAN takes all its decisions by consensus.  The EU can decide by taking votes.  There is a system of weighted voting, with different countries being given different numbers of votes.  However, in the area of common foreign and security policy, decisions are based on unanimity.  In ASEAN’s case, there is an exception to the consensus rule:  economic agreements can be adopted by a majority, using the “ASEAN minus X” formula.  The logic is that the majority can proceed first and the minority will catch up later.

The sixth difference is on language policy.  The EU has 23 official languages.  In the cast of ASEAN, English is used as the sole medium for meetings and communications.


I want to conclude by expressing my confidence in the EU.  I believe that the EU, without the UK, will be stronger and not weaker because it will be more cohesive.  I do not believe that the EU will break up or that the euro will fail.  In the same way, I believe that ASEAN will overcome its challenges and remain united and independent.  Learning from the experience of the EU, ASEAN will redouble its efforts to ensure that it is not viewed as an elitist project.  Instead, ASEAN must ensure that it enjoys the support of the 625 million citizens of ASEAN.

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出发之前,大家一致认为从珀斯驱车前往pinnacle 这一程会是这次西澳之行最为辛苦的一段。首先是路途遥远,得六小时;然后是一路北行,气候炎热。所以我们在半路一个叫Lancelin 的小镇规划了休息时间。其实Lancelin 本身也有自己的景点:海边的沙丘。 当天我们一大早就出发了,驱车至接近珀斯市区时,赶上了上班高峰期:原来澳洲也会塞车的!等过了珀斯,路上的车辆迅速减少,不多一会儿,目力所及,已经很难觅得别的车辆了。 车窗外,植被也在发生着变化。刚开出珀斯时,还能看到树木,在炎炎烈日的炙烤下显得懒洋洋的;继续北行,树木渐渐鲜见,视野被大片绵延起伏的草甸占据。那草甸不是绿色的,而是青黄色的。间或能看见有零星的牛羊群在吃草,但并不让人觉得这儿会是很重要的牧区。 窗外一成不变,看上去没有尽头的黄色草甸迅速使我眼睛疲劳,昏昏欲睡。。。待我醒来时,我们的车子接近了一个海边的小村,这儿有一个加油站。村子不大,也没有什么人家,加油站里兼营杂货店,售卖咖啡汉堡。看来这个简陋的加油站所在不仅是过路司机的休憩所,也是村子里的人们日常生活的重要一站。 加满油后,我们就一气开到了Lancelin 。这是一个安静的海边小镇,公路直穿小镇而过。公路两边错落地点缀着不算美丽却也别致的小房子。在路边的一条小巷子的尽头,就是游客信息中心。接待我们的是一位有点威严的老太太,她说今天天气特别热,我们去沙丘的话得多带水。 沙丘入口有一个公告牌,提醒说非四驱车不要开进沙丘,我们将车子停在入口处的停车场,就下车往里面走。第一反应是:光线太强,我带着墨镜都觉得刺眼。而且没有一丝风。这儿跟我上次在越南美奈体验过的沙丘不一样:那边阳光较温和,也有风。 看见远处高高的沙丘上有人滑沙,也能看见有辆四驱车在缓缓地驶入这片沙丘的腹地,但我实在是觉得阳光太强,没有勇气往前走,更别说去爬到那大沙丘的顶部。通行的童鞋们似乎也被这儿极端的气候镇住了,也都只是搬出相机,拍下这个奇怪的地方。 从沙丘出来,我们决定找个阴凉所在吃午饭。很快我们就找到了:这是海边的一片绿地,大树亭亭如盖,海风习习。我们占据一张桌子后不久,旁边开来一辆房车,下来一老爷爷和一老太太。他们从车里搬出躺椅,小茶几,小凳子;老爷爷开始在躺椅上看书,老太太开始烧水沏茶。人老了固然有诸多不好,但能像这对老人一样,悠然惬意,老人也有年轻人所不能体会的幸福。 — 吃过午饭,大家觉得天气实在太炎热,何况此去 Pinnacle 还有一半的路程。于是一致决定返回。所谓失之东隅,收之桑榆。虽然没有去成Pinnacle, 却在半路发现一个国家公园 (Yanchep National Park)。公园门口处的工作人员非常热情,我们问询了她好几分钟,她脸上的笑容都没有收过。她介绍说公园内有袋鼠,有考拉。哇塞,这正是我想看的澳洲小怪兽啊。大家都很兴奋,所以我们就开进去啦。停下车,大家就开始寻觅怪兽了:) 首先经过的就是考拉园。同行有两位童鞋以前到过澳洲,看过考拉,有经验,说考拉很懒,躺在树上一动不动,所以大家应该找树枝丫处黑黑毛茸茸的一坨就对了。有了这个诀窍,大家很快就找到了一头又一头的考拉。考拉同学果然不负众望,全在树枝丫上睡觉。



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Rottnest island是一位荷兰船长最早发现的。该船长在岛上看到一种个头特别大的老鼠,以前从未见过,觉得新奇,于是就将这个岛命名为老鼠岛:Rottnest 来自荷兰语,就是老鼠的意思。


我们是从Fremantle 乘坐快艇到达老鼠岛的,船票价格不菲,接近80澳元。但从Fremantle 码头攒动的人头可以看出老鼠岛是外国游客也是当地人的度假好去处。登岛码头的地方有一个游客信息中心,在那儿我看见一批人在排队,觉得很好奇:难道还得交纳额外的入岛费?一问,才知道他们有预定岛上的旅店,是在check in。



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从swan river游轮下来登陆Fremantle

Fremantle 是个非常干净整洁的小城市,已经很难看出它曾经是个繁忙的海港。我们是乘坐游船从perth 沿着swan river而下到达的Fremantle , 下船的地方除了同船游客,并无很多人。乘坐绕城而行的巴士,很快便到达它的是中心。这儿的街道店铺给人一种环球影城的感觉:古朴,精致,给人一点虚幻的氛围。街上游人如织,大家都在度假:抿咖啡,咂啤酒,选贺卡,拍照片。午后的金黄色阳光打在人们的脸上,让人们跟着周围的景一样,变得有些虚幻。




从集市的后面走出,就到了Fremantle 安静的一面了。沿着马路向着Fremantle 监狱的方向走去,路两边的大树和花儿都静静的,一点也不像咖啡店和酒馆的服务生或是集市里叫卖的亚裔大婶那样热情;住家的房子里面似乎也没有人家,让人怀疑他们禁不住如织的游客们的闹腾,都趁着周末去别的地方避起来了。


我想来,监狱应该算是Fremantle 最有名的景点了吧。走到监狱大门口,却也没有看到带着小红帽的导游举着小红旗带队的景象。看来人们对于监狱的好奇心,远远不如对于咖啡啤酒的喜爱。也是,一个是用生理上的劳役和心理上的隔离来惩罚人身上无法根除的罪孽,一个是用大自然的馈赠和人类的智慧去满足人与生俱来的对生理心理快乐的追求。作为一个有意识的人,谁会去主动面对前者呢?

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出发前我们开过两次筹备会议(一次是大家齐聚一堂,另一次是电话会议),讨论该去哪些地方和景点耍。最终定下三条线路:北线Perth -> lancelin -> pinnacle , 南线Perth -> bunbury -> margaret river -> Augusta , 以及中线 perth -> rottenest island -> Fremantle.

我们首先开始中线。珀斯的CBD很小,却很别致。正对着swan river,右边就是king’s park, 左边有一横跨swan river的桥。在king’s park欣赏珀斯市区是最好不过的。这次旅行结束前的晚上,我们来到了king’s park。都市的夜景有一种特别的美:鳞次栉比的高楼里三三两两的窗户里投出洁白的灯光,让人呼吸到那些人还在为城市的繁荣工作着;公路上汽车打着温柔的黄色灯光,像提着灯笼的人们走在回家的路上。夜里都市宁静,让人安详,又有着这一点那一点的灯火,让人觉得安全。

在king’s park 看珀斯市区

从珀斯可以乘坐游船沿着swan river 而下去往Fremantle 。两岸铺陈着各种风格的漂亮房子,任随着火热的阳光洗礼。我们乘坐的游船上,船长是一位澳洲老人。他边开船,边讲两岸风景,讲掌故。他的掌故里,有穷小子称为百万富翁,有富豪倾家荡产,有豪门凶杀至今没有结案,有帆船赛的成与败。 他讲得很认真,让我觉得他真的是那掌故的一部分。

在swan river乘坐游船,回头看珀斯

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LonelyPlanet 上说,如果你相信life is a beach 的话,你应该去西澳。







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