Federica Mogherini visits China and India this week as Asian leaders still struggle to come to terms with the Trump phenomenon. The EU foreign policy chief will be concentrating on measures to improve EU-China and EU-India relations but her interlocutors, and others in the region, will be focused more on Trump’s tweets, especially as tension is mounting between the US and North Korea.
Based on her own good ties to senior officials in Washington, Mogherini should be able to reassure Asian leaders that Trump’s rhetoric is one thing – his actual policy another. In the past week Trump has flip-flopped on major foreign policy issues including the relevance of NATO and how to handle China. It is no longer a currency manipulator but a valued partner in helping to tackle the DPRK nuclear issue.
Before and after his inauguration, President Trump had numerous phone calls and meetings with leaders and business people from the Asia Pacific region. During the campaign he worried many Asian leaders with his threats to leave TPP, raise tariffs on Chinese exports and make Japan and South Korea be responsible for their own defence. He also called into question the long-standing ‘One China’ policy by making an early phone call to Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. Business has also been rattled given the high uncertainty surrounding possible Trump policies in the trade and financial fields. More recently there are signs of a more moderate approach.
By Mascha Peters
On 10 March the constitutional court of South Korea upheld a parliamentary motion to impeach president Park Geun-hye, clearing the way for a snap presidential election on 9 May. A clear majority of South Koreans view the first-ever impeachment of a South Korean president as a chance for a fresh start after months of protests, which drew up to one million citizens onto the streets. With at least 61 members of the ruling New Frontier Party (NFP) voting in favour of Park’s impeachment, hopes are now high for a democratic boost for the country. The scale of civic protest is comparable only to the one which triggered the downfall of the last authoritarian regime 30 years ago.
Sir, You report (April 3) that President Donald Trump “is prepared to tackle North Korea alone” but it should be painfully clear to everyone that there is no military solution to the problem of Kim Jong Un’s nuclear weapons. There is no certainty that the US knows the whereabouts of all North Korea’s launch sites, and any attack would lead to a devastating retaliatory strike on Seoul — a metropolis of 10m just 60km from South Korea’s border with the North.
Opening the event on 15 March, Fraser Cameron drew attention to the many uncertainties surrounding trade policy. What would happen to TPP? Is there an opportunity for the EU to play a leadership role? Could China now dominate the trade scene with RCEP? Could the EU-Japan FTA be completed in the coming months?
EU-ASIA Centre is a think tank dedicated to promoting closer relations between the EU and Asia.
1 March 2017
20 February 2017