FSE/ESF Forum social européen/European Social Forum - Asia - Europe : economics agreements, social and popular fights facing neo-liberal politics.
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Asia - Europe : economics agreements, social and popular fights facing neo-liberal politics. [fr]
8 December 2003


Social Forums less developed in Asia. WSF will strengthen the existing activist movement and build links. In East Asia, EU is challenging the hegemony of US and Japan. The Philippines and other East Asian countries have signed an anti terrorist pact with the US. The Social Forums are against the militarization of Asia. The neoliberal agenda is very strong in East Asia notably in the privatisation of water, education and social security. Asian nation states struggling within the geostrategic power game played by the US, EU and Japan.

India: penetration by multinational companies is seen as bringing modernity. The penetration by MNCs is also bringing ethnic violence. Civic nationalism since the French Revolution, shown in Asia as coming out of national liberation struggles, is on the retreat. Nationalism is now increasingly defined on ethnic, religious and language basis. A modern nation has to have an identity. In South Asia, religion is the only possible basis. In India religion is not fundamentalist but policy is inherently fascist and anti democratic. All S. Asian states are multinational. All elites refuse to acknowledge this. There are no truly federal states. All states use religion as a centralizing force. All except India say the state has a religion.

All S. Asian states are militarized. Defence is privileged over everything else.

It is necessary to fight the arms race. The EU promotes the arms race. Solidarity has to be built. There is a real cost to solidarity. It is difficult to organise: governments only just allow people to talk to each other. In Indonesia, the tradition of tolerance has recently been shaken to the core. Thousands have been killed; over a million have been displaced. Indonesia is the front line of the fight against terrorism. Mindanao: attacks on the rights of local people - privatisation and deregulation combined with suppression of opposition. China: 16 - 18 hour day, 7 days a week. Women preferred, unmarried. There are many strikes in China including important protests over the non payment of wages. Healthcare and education now very expensive: teachers now no longer respected but hated. Very high growth rates but continuing high levels of job insecurity. Liberal globalisation at the root of the process, especially with China now in the WTO. Foreign companies are out competing Chinese companies. No Chinese manufacturers of cars or planes. Growing inequality, growing gap between town and country.

The boss who said” We just expand things in the big towns while local farmers are being destroyed” was arrested. 80% of all savings are held by 5% of the population. Globalisation and privatisation are encouraged but all unionisation is forbidden. Arms race hits women the hardest.

Right to self determination.

Both Indian and Pakistan governments agree that Kashmir will not be allowed self determination. Militarisation is mainly against the domestic, that is, one’s own, population None of the S. Asian states is sovereign. E. Asian regimes haven’t wasted their resources on arms. Military spending is ever closer to the economic priorities of the state. Thus, 3,000 soldiers are available for whoever buys the Karachi Electricity company now due to be privatised.

Self determination is about whether people are guaranteed their rights. It is necessary to distinguish between independence and freedom. Do we want the first without the second?

What role should Europe play? First it is necessary to construct another Europe. Europeans have to take responsibility, e.g. for the debt. The debt principal, much of it spent on arms, has been repaid many times over. Europe must stop taking the money and stop selling arms. It is not possible to go to the imperialist states for labour rights.

If workers in the EU fight privatisation, it makes it much easier for us. When we protest we want your support. Military operations are basically about economic resources for multinationals and foreign investors. Alternatives have to look to the right of self determination and grass roots movements.

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