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Xi-May

Theresa May in China

Even if the results were meagre, a beleaguered Theresa May probably welcomed the opportunity to escape the febrile Westminster atmosphere for a three day visit to China this week. The British prime minister heads a minority government and continues to be haunted by a possible leadership challenge as well as constant Cabinet in-fighting over a hard v soft Brexit.

Her principal aims in China were to try and convince Chinese leaders that she would be in power for some time and that post-Brexit, there would be a new ‘golden age’ of UK-China relations. President Xi and Prime Minister Li said that there could be close relations whatever the UK’s future status.

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japan china trade asean

China and Japan rivalry in ASEAN

By Dandan Wan

As the 600m strong Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) becomes more cohesive as a political and economic actor, Japan and China are competing for influence within the bloc. In the past 20 years, ASEAN has made steady progress in promoting regional integration. It has established the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), East Asia’s first multilateral security dialogue the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the East Asian Summit (EAS) and the ASEAN Plus frameworks with various partners including the EU. 

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Korean olympic detente

The Korean Olympic Détente - Sport, Diplomacy and the Army of Beauties

On 9 February the Winter Olympic Games will commence in Pyeongchang, just 80 km from the demilitarized zone that divides Korea. But to the surprise of many, South and North Korea will march together at the opening ceremony under a Unification Flag – a pale blue shape of the Korean peninsula against a white background, designed to represent all of Korea. It won’t be the first time this happens; North Korea has quite a history at the Olympics which it boycotted only twice – the 1984 Games in Los Angeles and the 1988 Games in Seoul. But there will be a number of “firsts” at this year’s games.

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EU-ASEAN trade

Invitation February 27th - Prospects for EU-ASEAN Trade

The 600m strong ASEAN community has become the centre of a global tug of war on trade. As the US under Trump retreats from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), China is stepping up its engagement through the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) while Japan and India are both strengthening their relations with ASEAN.

The EU has decided to go down the bilateral route, signing deals with Singapore and Vietnam, while still open to a possible bloc to bloc FTA. Talks with Thailand could restart as soon as there is a restoration of democratic rule. The EU, however, is caught between the business imperatives of seeking new trade deals and the reversal of democratic progress and human rights in some ASEAN members. In addition there are serious concerns about the EU’s ratification of the Singapore and Vietnam deals.