Facing the world by clenching the 10 fingers to form two fists
(Note) Last Friday night I finished giving my lecture to the MBA students at the National University of Laos via a videoconference system provided by JICA. The main topic was "ASEAN Economic Integration."
"The 10 fingers" here refer to the 10 ASEAN countries. The "fist" signifies the strengthened integration, solidarity and bond of the ASEAN countries. "Facing the world," does not mean to start a war, but to secure global competitiveness (although the ASEAN membership of Vietnam and the Philippines may have one reason China refrained from military intervention in the recent clash in the South China Sea or East Sea to Vietnam).
"To turn against Vietnam is tantamount to turning against all of ASEAN""
But this is on the condition that ASEAN join together to form a clenched fist. If its fingers are not tightly clenched, it does not have enough power to face the world.
A fist is clenched to fight, but the fingers not joined together can perform numerous tasks. Furthermore, each finger has its own role. For example, the pinky, or little finger, is essential when griping a golf club or shinai (bamboo sword) in kendo (Japanese fencing).
In some instances, the fingers supplement each other to perform delicate tasks. In other situations, the fingers form a fist to overcome difficulties and predicaments. This flexibility, I think, is the appeal of ASEAN. It is a uniquely Asian aspect, unlike, for example, the EU in Europe.
This is my observation of ASEAN and the AEC (ASEAN Economic Community).
I note that about first phrase was inspired by the Japanese subtitle of a line in Spartacus: Vengeance, a new Zealand produced television series, available in DVD/Blue-ray Disc formats.