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Kim Jong Un US

News of the Week

16 June 2013

North Korea wants high-level talks with the US

After months of threats and bluster against the US and South Korea, the DPRK has said that it wants ‘serious discussions’ with the US to ‘secure peace and stability in the region’. There have been no high-level talks between the US and North Korea since 2009. The reason for this turnaround is likely to be the need to secure a relaxation of sanctions. The DPRK is known to be short of fuel and food.

Japan-US hold joint military exercises

US military and the Japanese Self-Defence Forces have carried out an ‘island defence’ training exercise in California which has provoked a protest from China. Although Tokyo and Washington insisted the exercise was not aimed at any specific country, the Chinese media considered the exercise unhelpful in light of ongoing Sino-Japanese tensions over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands.

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Solar Panels

News of the Week

10 June 2013

Anti-dumping levies on Chinese solar panel imports

On 4 June the European Commission published the preliminary results of its anti-dumping investigation on Chinese solar panel products and decided to impose provisional anti-dumping duties on Chinese solar panel products from 6 June to 6 August. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on 5 June that the China expressed its firm opposition to these temporary tariffs. At the same time, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce announced the launch of Chinese anti-dumping investigations on wine imported from the EU.

Xi Jinping visits Mexico

Chinese President Xi Jinping began his state visit to Mexico on 4 June. He held talks with Mexican President Peña and they exchanged views on deepening pragmatic cooperation between China and Mexico. Both sides agreed to turn their relationship into a comprehensive strategic partnership.

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Xi-Obama Summit

‘Terrific’ US-China Summit

10 June 2013

President Obama’s one word description of the two day summit in California with Chinese President Xi Jinping as ‘terrific’ demonstrated US satisfaction with the meeting. US National Security Advisor Tom Donilon (soon to be replaced by Susan Rice) told the press that Obama considered the summit ‘unique, positive and constructive’. But he added that Obama had warned Xi that cyber-crime could still be a negative factor in their relationship. The theft of intellectual property was another major US concern.

In a separate briefing, Yang Jiechi, a top Xi foreign policy advisor, said that China was also very satisfied with the summit. Beijing wanted co-operation rather than friction with the US over cyber-security. He added that Xi had outlined to Obama his concept of the Chinese Dream and summarized the Chinese view of the future Sino-American relationship as ‘no conflict and no confrontation’, ‘mutual respect’ and ‘cooperation toward win-win results’.

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Xi Jinping in Trinidad

News of the Week

3 June 2013

Xi Jingping visits Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica and Mexico

On 31 May, Chinese President, Xi Jingping, began a visit to Trinidad and Tobago, the first ever by a Chinese head of state. He will then visit Costa Rica and Mexico before travelling to California for a summit with President Obama. China has been increasing its trade with the Caribbean and Central American states and hopes to gain political support as a result of this visit.

Shangri-La Security Conference, Singapore

Catherine Ashton spoke at the annual IISS conference in Singapore highlighting the EU’s capabilities as a security partner for Asia. The defence ministers of Japan, the US and South Korea had a side meeting to discuss the situation in North Korea. China and the US traded allegations about cyber security attacks.

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Ashton at Shangri-La Dialogue 2013

Ashton offers Asia Security Partnership

3 June 2013

Speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on 1 June, Catherine Ashton said that in a world faced by multiple and continually evolving security threats, building strong partnerships between like-minded regions had never been more important. The EU was ‘a true Asian partner’ as its unique comprehensive approach enabled it to play a key role in tackling many of the security issues affecting Asia.

To underline her commitment to Asian security issues, Ashton announced that she would be attending next month\'s ASEAN Regional Forum in Brunei and would be heading an EU-led task force to Myanmar before the end of the year.

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China Switzerland FTA

News of the week

29 May 2013

China and Switzerland sign framework of FTA

The preliminary agreement was signed in Bern during an official visit by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to Switzerland, the first stop on his short European tour. Switzerland’s economy minister Johann Schneider-Ammann said he hoped to sign the FTA during his visit to Beijing in mid-July. After Iceland, Switzerland would become the second European nation to sign a free-trade deal with China. For China, it would be the first such deal with one of the 20 leading economies of the globe, Li Keqiang said after the signing of the framework. According to Xinhua, Switzerland will offer zero tariffs for 99.7% of China’s exports, while China will offer zero tariffs for 84.2% of Swiss imports. Bilateral trade between the two is worth $26bn through imports and exports of watches, medicine, textiles, and dairy products. 

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Chinese Premier visits India

Chinese Premier visits India and Pakistan

19 May 2013

China’s Premier Li Keqiang starts a three day visit to India on 19 May during which ‘all issues will be on the table’ according to the Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman.

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Nawaz Sharif

Nawaz Sharif set for third term in office

13 May 2013

The Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) under its leader Nawaz Sharif has won the elections in Pakistan on 11 May. According to Pakistani media, the unofficial results suggest that the former opposition party PML-N has until now captured at least 125 seats with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) around 30 seats each. The required majority is 137 seats, which Sharif’s party could gain with support from small and independent parties.

Sharif had been prime minister twice in the 1990s and is set for a third term in office after his party’s election victory. The announcement of final results is expected to take a few more days. The voter turnout of 60% was the highest since Pakistan’s first election in 1970.

The PTI with its leader Imran Khan, who had been injured during the election rally, received fewer votes than expected. The former cricket player stated that his party would investigate irregularities in the electoral process, especially in Lahore and Karachi.

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Run-Up to Pakistan Elections - News of the Week

News of the Week

10 May 2013

Pakistan in election fever

In the run-up to the general elections in Pakistan taking place on 11 May, several bomb blasts aimed at pre-election parties have killed more than 100 persons and left many more injured. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks. Targets were secular parties and politicians of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). On 4 May, two bombs exploded in front of the Muttahida Quami Movement’s (MQM) office in Karachi, leaving three dead and 35 injured. On the previous day, the chief prosecutor of Benazir Bhutto’s murder in 2007 had been shot dead in Islamabad. Former president Pervez Musharraf is under house arrest as part of the investigation of Bhutto’s murder. The upcoming elections are already said to be the bloodiest in Pakistan’s history.

Imran Khan of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party fell off a lift taking him onto a stage at a Lahore election rally on Tuesday, 7 May.

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Pakistan Briefing

Pakistan: Political Fragility on the Eve of General Elections

10 May 2013

On the eve of general elections, to be held on 11 May 2013, Pakistan\'s political situation is extremely fragile. Yet elections are not expected to usher in any major changes, as President Asif Ali Zardari (PPP) and his political circles have repeatedly demonstrated their skills in maintaining and brokering power. The aspirations of former President Pervez Musharraf — to return from self-imposed exile and regain control in the country — were blocked when he was banned from office based on misconduct during his previous presidential term.

In the run-up to the elections, security threats are on the rise as extremist groups — notably the Taliban — have stepped up attacks and targeted candidates and party workers.

The EU in general and the European Parliament in particular are pursuing their political and economic cooperation with Pakistan, while reminding the Pakistani authorities of their international commitments, in particular in the field of security and human rights.

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