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Trump confirms status quo in Asia

By confirming that the US would follow the ‘One China’ policy and simultaneously reassuring PM Abe that the US-Japan alliance would remain ‘the cornerstone of security in Asia’, Trump has essentially confirmed the status quo in Asia.

There had been much speculation after Trump, as President-elect, received a phone call from President Tsai of Taiwan that he might use the “One China’ policy as a bargaining chip. But his top advisers convinced him this was a bad idea and in a phone call with President Xi he reiterated the long-standing China policy. In an exchange of letters Xi and Trump also shared wishes to continue a close and productive relationship.

These moves will be welcomed by most countries in Asia that were worried about some of the statements during Trump’s campaign when he called on Japan and S Korea to do more for their own defence and even said they might develop their own nuclear weapons.

The recent visit of Pentagon chief, General Mattis, to S Korea and Japan was also a sign of reassurance that Washington did not intend to change course in East Asia. Secretary of State Tillerson also rowed back from his tough remarks during his Senate confirmation hearing on the South China Sea. He now considers that there need be no increased military action beyond existing freedom of navigation operations.

/// OP-ED

Asia wants a stronger global role for Europe

By Fraser Cameron, Director

Asked in Washington last Friday (10 February) whether the EU was ready to take on a greater leadership role, Federica Mogerhini gave a clear answer. ‘Yes, we are ready’ said the EU’s foreign policy chief.

Given the international criticism and uncertainty surrounding Donald Trump’s entry into the White House could this indeed be an opportunity for the EU to come of age on the global stage?

At first sight the idea may sound far-fetched what with Brexit, the refugee crisis and the rise of populism throughout Europe. But the EU remains the largest market in the world, the largest provider of development assistance and the strongest supporter of the multilateral system. The European political system has been shaken up but to date there are no populist parties governing any major member state. It is this boring reliability that other powers, especially in Asia, are beginning to recognise as a strength, especially given the unpredictability surrounding the future of US foreign policy.

In Asia, despite recent reassurances, they wonder if long-standing alliances will still hold and are perplexed as to why Washington is prepared to cede economic leadership to China by tearing up the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). In Beijing, they wonder if the bipartisan One China policy will really remain intact and whether Trump is planning a trade war with China.

In Europe the questions concern the implications of a potential US rapprochement with Russia – at what cost? Will Trump adhere to the Iran nuclear deal? Will he maintain America’s commitment to the Paris climate change agreement? And will he turn his back on free trade and multilateral institutions?

eu india

EU-India Think Tank Meetings

Over the past two years the EU-Asia Centre and the EPC have managed a series of research projects aimed at increasing mutual understanding between India and the EU, promoting contacts between EU and Indian think tanks and developing new ideas on how the EU-India strategic partnership should evolve in the future.

It was agreed to focus the research projects in the following areas:

·      Global Governance;

·      International Security;

·      Promoting Sustainability. 


Event Report - One Belt, One Road (OBOR)

On 22 February the EU-Asia Centre and the Confucius Institute of the VUB held a panel discussion on OBOR with Chinese and EU experts. Opening the event, Fraser Cameron, Director of the EU-Asia Centre, pointed to OBOR as a new and important element of EU-China relations. The Centre was part of the OBOR think tank network and would be participating in the 14 May summit in Beijing.


EU-ASIA Centre is a think tank dedicated to promoting closer relations between the EU and Asia.

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