新冠疫情撼动世界,中国—东盟关系得到提升

作者:未知

  东盟国家不仅仅是与中国山水相连的邻居,更是中国的重要贸易合作伙伴、中资企业的投资热土。据中国海关总署公布的数据显示,2020年1~5月,东盟超越欧盟成为中国第一大贸易伙伴,中国—东盟的合作互惠进一步加深。因此,在新冠疫情的特殊背景之下,对当前的东盟局势及中国—东盟关系做出准确观察和研判尤为重要。近日,中国东南亚研究会副会长、北京大学国际关系学院教授、博士生导师杨保筠在广西民族大学东盟学院举办的“东盟快闪”线上沙龙活动上为我们提供了又一个观察东盟的视角。
  两个视角看东盟:宏观与微观相结合
  东盟是当今世界上最具有影響力的区域国际组织之一,其成员国在政治、文化、宗教以及经济发展程度上差异很大。在其历史发展中,东盟形成了“互不干涉内政”“非对抗性协商”“求同存异”等独树一帜的行事原则。在这些原则之下,东盟机制对其成员国的约束性相对较弱,各成员国在谋求自身利益上有着更大的余地。
  杨保筠认为,无论是观察东盟自身还是中国—东盟关系,都必须从两个视角出发,即东盟作为东南亚地区国际组织的宏观视角和东盟各成员国的微观视角。此外,现今国际政治联系紧密又瞬息万变,观察东盟的视野不应仅限于东南亚而是应在更大的框架中,例如东盟与中日韩(10+3)的东亚区域视野,以及囊括美国的传统亚太视角,甚至欧盟也是一个不可忽视的因素。
  具体到本次的疫情,杨保筠表示,除了把握上述的国家和区域的空间维度,还有掌握疫情发展的时间维度:东盟国家疫情的发展与中国错峰而行,东盟国家的3~4月份对应中国的1~2月份。
  东盟抗疫:合作空间有待拓展
  杨保筠梳理了过去数月东盟的抗疫表现后指出,即使在世界范围内,东盟的抗疫表现也相当出色。从2月开始,东盟内部通过包括视频在内的方式,陆续召开了一系列针对抗击新冠疫情的高级别会议,例如:2月19日,越南河内举行东盟成员国国防部长会议;2月20日,在老挝万象举行东盟协调委员会(ACC)特别会议;3月10日,举行第26届东盟经济部长会议;3月13日,举行东盟各国高级卫生官员视频会议。
  但是,进入3月份后,疫情的走势还是大大超出了东盟国家的预期,新加坡、菲律宾、印尼等国的确诊病例数急速攀升,东盟各国及区域内公共卫生治理能力面临严峻挑战,旅游经济严重受挫……至今,疫情的影响仍然存在不确定性。有人担心疫情后一些国家政策更加内顾、全球供应链不稳定和贸易摩擦升级等会对区域一体化进程造成影响,而杨保筠认为,在抗击新冠疫情上东盟还有很大的合作空间亟待开拓,但是东盟一体化进程复杂,不能单从疫情一语概之。
  中国—东盟关系:共担风雨 共享希望
  疫情期间,中国与东盟一直守望相助。今年1~2月,先是东盟各国对中国抗疫给予了大力的支持和援助。而缓过疫情高峰期的中国对面临巨大抗疫压力的东盟各国也进行了相应的支援,并及时向东盟乃至世界各国分享了中国的抗疫经验和提振经济的信息。
  在世界经济被疫情的乌云笼罩之时,中国—东盟的双边经贸合作则如云边亮光。2020年1~2月,东盟成为中国的第一大贸易伙伴,双方贸易总值5941.1亿元人民币,同比增长2%,占中国外贸总值的14.4%,比去年同期增长1.6%。当时,有分析认为,中国与东盟在经贸合作上的这一进步是建立在中国与其他国家和地区的贸易衰退的特殊时期之上的。但是,就2020年5月的最新数据,中国—东盟进出口达1.7万亿元,同比增长4.2%;中国对东盟出口9366.2亿元,增长2.8%;自东盟进口7598.6亿元,同比增长6%;均高于同期中国外贸进出口整体增速。在杨保筠看来,这表明了当前中国—东盟经贸合作所取得的成绩是具有可持续性的,而非仅是特殊时期的产物。
  东盟轮值主席国越南抗疫获肯定
  2020年之于越南十分特殊:既是越南加入东盟的25周年,也是东盟主席国的轮值年。越南的内政外交也更具雄心抱负。年初,越南接手轮值主席国时提出了增强东盟的制度能力等年度计划。尽管开局时新冠疫情给越南造成了一定的冲击,但种种危机均被一一化解。
  在抗疫方面,越南政府吸取了2003年“非典”的前车之鉴,果断采取了一系列措施:4月1日越南实行封锁,将国际旅客隔离14天并对病例进行有效追踪。根据路透社6月18日报道,越南累计确诊病例342例,无死亡病例,康复率达90%。越南作为拥有9000多万人口的发展中国家,其抗疫表现甚至远超许多发达国家,赢得了世界的赞誉。
  在经济方面,根据世界银行的数据,越南经济在2020年预计能有1.5%的增长。近日,越南总理阮春福接受采访时表示,越南能保持4%~5%的经济增长。
  在外交方面,越南更是积极作为,利用视频会议等方式牵头东盟内部有关抗击新冠疫情的交流。同时,越南还推动了东盟与中日韩(10+3)领导人视频峰会。在与3国的密切交流中,东盟得到了大量的流行病学数据和抗疫经验,以及来自中韩两国的强大医疗资源支持。
  面对越南在疫情期间的出色表现,《曼谷邮报》专栏作者Kavi Chongkittavorn于6月16日发表文章,直呼“越南带领着东盟走向后疫情时代”。于越南而言,新冠疫情犹如“天将降大任于斯人”的眷顾,既展现了越南作为轮值主席国的领导力也提升了其国际形象。尽管目前越南的表现的确可圈可点,但是杨保筠认为,若就此得出越南已经达到其外交上的雄心抱负仍为时尚早,值得进一步研究观察。
  The outbreak of COVID-19 reaffirms the saying that “good health is incomparable wealth”. But the consequences of the measures to curb its spread have taken a heavy toll on the wealth of many and the wage of millions.   Thailand has performed well in containing the outbreak and mitigating its impact. Since April 27, 2020, the number of new COVID-19 cases has increased only slightly, while some days saw no new case at all. About 96% of those infected have fully recovered, and the fatality rate is less than 2%.
  In tandem with public health measures, the government is addressing economic risks by injecting loans and financial assistance to the people. Some observers rightly noted that if the economy is an ailing patient in dire need of oxygen, the cash flow pumped in by the government is comparable to the breath of fresh air in a stale room.
  To date, Thailand has approved economic relief measures in three phases that cater to entrepreneurs, blue collars and households so that sources of revenue, whether in the form of income, aid or loan is accessible by every vulnerable sector of society. The overarching principle is to maintain liquidity and allow cash to remain in the hands of the people. These measures could be roughly categorised into three objectives, namely, to ease public expense burden, to add revenue and to keep the economic engine lubricated and running.
  On easing expense burden, water and electricity bills in all households were waived or discounted for three months. Personal and corporate income tax filing and payment deadlines have been extended. Withholding tax rate is reduced from 3% to 1.5% for six months. State properties rental fees that are used for residential and agricultural purposes will be exempted for one year. Furthermore, financial institutions are to postpone clients’ payment of loans for cars, motorcycles and housing.
  Adding revenue is more challenging since all the engines of economic growth are nearly paralysed. Since the government is the last standing “big spender” in the market, it is employing every possible channel and mechanism to ensure that the relief is inclusive. For instance, laid-off informal workers have been receiving THB 5,000 to compensate wages for three months while those registered with the Social Security Fund will receive 70% of their wages up to 200 days. A THB 40-billion loan programme will enable those eligible to obtain a THB 10,000 emergency loan with a monthly interest rate of 0.1%. At the same time, SMEs can apply for a low-interest loan from the Government Savings Bank and SMEs Bank. The government has also approved a THB 150 billion budget for the distribution of THB 15,000 to ten million registered farmers.   Measures to sustain the economic sectors include the initiative for the Bank of Thailand to provide THB 500 billion of soft loans to financial institutions so that they can offer loans to certain SMEs. Another THB one trillion has been allocated to resuscitate sectors from agriculture to tourism. Moreover, Thailand is investing in human resources by providing training in necessary skills such as language training for tour guides and business management for entrepreneurs.
  Most importantly, the government has gradually relaxed certain restrictions in phases since May 3, 2020, to let businesses revive. The decision was made based on the satisfying outcome in controlling COVID-19. The first group of establishments to be back in service included restaurants, food stalls, street vendors, markets, hair salons, healthcare facilities and golf courses. Consequently, the government permitted shopping malls and larger businesses to re-open. This, however, does not mean that our fight against the pandemic is over. We still have a long way to go.
  While the prospect for Thailand in overcoming COVID-19 may appear promising, all the roads to economic recovery hint rocky hurdles. Gurus have already forecast a bleak annual growth for Thailand and around the world. Nonetheless, all sectors are taking advantage of this “time out” to make necessary preparations for the post-COVID-19 landscape.
  COVID-19 has become an accidental accelerator for Thailand in redesigning its future towards a more innovative and sustainable economy, a plan that Thailand has been pursuing for some years. In the absence of tourists, Thailand is improving the quality of tourism services by developing technology-based solutions and expanding E-commerce applications. Thailand’s nature and national parks entered a “spa phase”, and have been restored to a pristine condition. Don Mueang International Airport in Bangkok is undergoing renovation. With social distancing in mind, the Tourism Authority of Thailand is targeting smaller tourist groups, focusing on quality over quantity, and enhancing health tourism.
  Economic activities in Thailand need to go more online, just like other countries. “Business as usual” is being redefined in the spectrum of “New Normal”. Dealers are hopping on the E-commerce train, wishing that their products will go viral to survive this virus outbreak. Meetings, business activities and even trade exhibitions are being carried out in the virtual world. Even farmers and entrepreneurs are being trained to improve their online literacy and skills to access the expanding E-commerce market.
  Furthermore, Thailand is putting more efforts in research and technology, particularly in innovative medical treatment and solutions. We now have assistant robots and telemedicine to help doctors and nurses take care of patients from a distance.
  All these efforts will bolster Thailand’s economy just as when the Asian economic crisis hit us back in 1997. Back then, the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy was introduced by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great to encourage a more balanced approach to development based on reasonableness and moderateness. It is time to re-explore this philosophy as an immunity against any future external shocks.
  It will be a long road to recovery before we resume normalcy and our economy regains momentum. But as long as we remain committed to our aspirations, the world will rebound and emerge with a stronger sense of resilience and solidarity.
  · Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand
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