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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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India and China

INVITATION: India and China - Friends or Rivals? 25/09, 1500-1700h, EP

25 September 2013

The EU-Asia Centre invites you to a debate on relations between India and China in the European Parliament on 25 September from 1500-1700 in A5G-1 (Altiero Spinelli Building). Although India and China are fellow members of the BRICS and enjoy a strategic partnership, there are many tensions in the relationship from border disputes to India hosting the Dalai Lama. The debate will consider the prospects for future relations between the two Asia superpowers. Is China a threat to India’s regional interests? What is the impact of China’s friendship with Pakistan? Will the border issue continue to sour relations? Are there common security concerns? Will a democratic India overtake China in the economic race? What are the main areas for cooperation? The EU has a strategic partnership with both powers and thus has a close interest in their relations.

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India China 250913

India and China – Friends or Rivals?

25 September 2013

On 25 September, the EU-Asia Centre held a panel debate in the European Parliament chaired by Sir Graham Watson, MEP, on “India and China – Friends or Rivals?” Setting the scene, Watson said that there had been relatively little contact between the two Asian giants in the 1950s and 60s. The 1962 war was unfortunate and still left a scar on bilateral relations. More recently there had been measures to improve relations and this year it was noticeable that the prime ministers would each make bilateral visits to the other. As both countries had strategic partnerships with the EU it was vital that we followed this relationship.

The relations could be best described as ‘muddling through and keeping up appearances’, said Jonathan Holslag from the Brussels Institute of Contemporary China Studies. The number of dialogues between both countries (including military to military) had increased greatly over the last years and there was some coordination on global affairs e.g. climate change. But there was no discussion on non-security threats. India retained a large trade deficit with China, providing raw materials and few services.

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