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Political Situation SEA

Political Change in Southeast Asia

24 February 2014

Opening a panel discussion on political changes in SE Asia, Fraser Cameron, Director of the EU-Asia Centre, said that the region would remain vulnerable to global developments, especially the financial and economic situation in China, the US and the EU, as well as energy prices. Thailand remained mired in political uncertainty with sporadic violence. Indonesia was facing important elections in July. There was on-going political uncertainty in Myanmar and Malaysia. Other countries faced growing corruption which could have a political impact. In addition, several countries were involved in border disputes. Against this background the EU was keen to deepen its relations with ASEAN.

Michael Montesano, Visiting Fellow (ISEAS), Singapore, said that there was indeed considerable political volatility in the region, often linked to rapid economic and social change. Traditional political models were also changing and there was continuing tension from the disputes in the South China Sea. Political uncertainty has now gripped Thailand for 3 months, and shows no sign of abating following the 2 February general election won by sitting PM Yingluck Shinawatra but boycotted by the opposition.

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EU-Asia Centre

INVITATION: Political Change in Southeast Asia

23 February 2014

The EU-Asia Centre is pleased to invite you to a panel discussion on current political developments in Southeast Asia, a region of growing interest to the EU with a planned EU-ASEAN ministerial meeting in the coming weeks. The on-going crisis in Thailand will be a central feature of the panel discussion. There are important elections looming in Indonesia while the political situation remains contested in Malaysia and Cambodia. Vietnam and Singapore are also experiencing internal political pressures. The discussion will take place from 1700-1830 on Monday, 24 February at the Press Club, 95 Rue Froissart, 1040 Brussels.

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EU-Japan

EPP Group Hearing: The EU-Japan Strategic Partnership Agreement

30 January 2014

On 30 January the EPP held a group hearing on the EU-Japan Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA). The hearing was hosted by MEP Alojz Peterle who is the rapporteur for the SPA between the EU and Japan.

In both panels speakers agreed that the SPA was of high importance to EU-Japan relations and that it offered many areas in which cooperation was mutually beneficial. The first panel focused on the overarching political relationship whereas the second discussed trade and economic relations as well as cooperation on global issues.

The Japanese Ambassador to the EU, Kojiro Shiojiri, said that good progress had been made in the four rounds of negotiations completed until now. The level of political will was high on both sides and the relationship built on common values and interests. He underlined the commitment of Japan and the EU to promoting peace, human rights, democracy, and the rule of law internationally. The SPA thus constituted a fundamental legal framework for the relationship.

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Bangladesh 4 December

Bangladesh at a Crossroad

5 December 2013

On 4 December, the EU-Asia Centre held a policy briefing in the European Parliament on Bangladesh’s political situation before the general elections on 5 January. The main issues discussed were the pre-election tensions between the main political parties, the 1971 war crimes trial, and the state of EU-Bangladesh relations. The panellists agreed that Bangladesh stood at a crossroads, that the future of secular democracy was they key issue, and that the war crimes trial was a necessity for Bangladesh in order to create accountability for those who had committed atrocities during the 1971 Independence War.

Ambassador Ismat Jahan, who had just returned from Bangladesh, said there was a mixture of speculation and apprehension in the country, compunded by occasional acts of terror. The Supreme Court had decided on the constitutionality of the pre-election interim government. But the opposition parties remained opposed to the Prime Minister’s proposals and were threatening to boycott the elections. This would be a serious error. Bangladesh was a poor country and could not afford to repeat unnecessary elections.

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EU-Asia Centre

INVITATION - Bangladesh at a Crossroad

4 December 2013

In January Bangladesh will hold a general election. There is considerable political uncertainty, however, with Bangladesh\'s two main parties – the ruling Awami League and the opposition BNP - failing to agree over how the election process should be managed. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has proposed forming a cross-party interim cabinet to supervise the election but BNP leader, Khaleda Zia, has threatened to boycott the elections if they are not held under a non-party caretaker government.

One of the key issues causing tension between the two main parties is the on-going war crimes trials of alleged perpetrators of atrocities in the 1971 war of independence with Pakistan. Most of those on trial are linked to an Islamist group (Jamaat) which is itself linked to the BNP. Last month, a prominent BNP MP was sentenced to death by a war crimes court for charges including murder and genocide during the 1971 war. How useful are these war crimes trials in delivering justice and dealing with past horrors? Why is there continuing religious hatred more than 40 years after independence?

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EACS Conference

XX Biennal Conference of the European Association of Chinese Studies

28 November 2013

The 20th Biennal Conference of the European Association for Chinese Studies will be held in Braga, Portugal, from 22-24 July 2014 and in Coimbra, Portugal, on 25 and 26 July 2014. More information and registration at http://www.eacs2014.pt/.

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CCP Third Plenum 2013

INVITATION - Assessment of the CCP Third Party Plenum

26 November 2013

Last week’s Third Plenum of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was a major event, setting guidelines for internal and external policy that will have global ramifications. How serious is President Xi about the reform process? Can the leadership tackle the entrenched protectionist forces in China and move the country to a new consumption pattern? What will the changes mean for Europe and the rest of the world?

To discuss these issues the EU-Asia Centre and the Brussels Institute for Contemporary China Studies (BICCS) invite you to a panel debate on 26 November, 1700-1830, at the Press Club, 95 Rue Froissart, Brussels. The meeting will be just a few days after the EU-China summit and panellists will also give their assessment of EU-China relations.

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Third Plenum CCP

Assessment of the CCP Third Party Plenum

26 November 2013

On 26 November, the EU-Asia Centre and the Brussels Institute of Contemporary China Studies (BICCS) held a panel debate to assess the Third Plenary Session of 18th CPC Central Committee. All panellists were agreed that the economic reforms announced on 15 November were very comprehensive and urgently needed. The key question, however, would be the speed and effectiveness of implementation.

Jin Ling, Research Fellow of the China Institute of International Studies (CIIS) said there was a clear trend towards the internationalization of the Chinese Yuan and commended the reforms designed to combat climate change and improve China’s energy mix. Looking at EU-China relations, she saw both at a critical juncture in their development. Much depended on the next steps. The summit between China and the CEECs (16+1 Summit) was complementary to relations with the EU and were not part of a ‘divide and rule’ strategy. Different regions possessed different characteristics that made it reasonable for China to deal with them separately.

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Panel 1

ASEAN Secretary General calls for closer ties with EU

15 October 2013

Speaking at a conference organised by the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the EU-Asia Centre on 15 October, Le Luong Minh, ASEAN Secretary General, said that the EU was a long-standing and valued partner. It was important to align future EU-ASEAN cooperation to take into account new developments, requirements and needs of the post 2015ASEAN Community. There was much the two bodies could do together to deepen their relations, from trade and investment to closer cooperation in the multilateral institutions.

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders agreed and stressed that the EU and ASEAN were ‘natural partners that share the same DNA.’ The EU supported ASEAN’s integration and recognised its centrality in an evolving Asian regional architecture. The EU wanted to see ‘a strong, united and self-confident ASEAN which we can address in a block-to-block dialogue.’

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EU-Asia Centre

EU-ASEAN High Level conference

15 October 2013

EU-ASEAN High Level conference on 15 October with Didier Reynders and Le Luong Minh, the Secretary General of ASEAN (by invitation only)

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