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Australia's Asia Century

Australia's Asia Century

29 October 2012

This week Australian PM Julia Gillard outlined a major foreign policy shift aimed at refocusing away from Europe’s ‘old countries’ to its Asian neighbours.  A government white paper ‘Australia in the Asian Century’ sets out 25 national objectives to be met by 2025, with targets ranging from improving trade links to teaching more Asian languages

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EU Welcomes Philippinepeace deal

EU Welcomes Philippine Peace Deal

9 October 2012

Catherine Ashton has welcomed the preliminary peace agreement reached between the Philippine Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippine Government. In an official statement made today she congratulated both parties on the “successful conclusion of the negotiations on the Framework Peace Agreement”.

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Russia and the APEC Summit

Russia and the APEC Summit

24 September 2012

This month’s APEC Summit in Vladivostok received little media coverage, partly because President Obama did not attend, and party because the results were relatively modest. President Putin made much of Russia’s new orientation towards the Asia-Pacific and stressed the important linking role to be played by the Eurasia Union. He also pledged to revitalize the Russian Far East without stating where the finance was to come from.

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farewell Wen Jiabao

Farewell Wen Jiabao

20 September 2012

There were smiles all round at the end of the 15th EU-China summit. It was the last summit attended by Premier Wen Jiabao and his European hosts, Herman van Rompuy and Jose Manuel Barroso were effusive in their praise for his commitment to deepening EU-China relations in the past eight years. But there were no smiles when the outgoing premier criticised the EU for failing to lift the arms embargo or grant China market economy status, two issues that have dogged the relationship for years. There was also a failure to agree even on a closing press conference.

The one-day summit focused mainly on economic developments in the EU, China and globally. European leaders outlined the measures the EU and ECB were taking to stabilise the Eurozone and deal with the deficits in several member states. They thanked the Chinese for their on-going support for the euro. The two sides agreed to intensify co-operation aimed at \"restoring market confidence and fostering financial stability.\" 

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Hong Kong Elections

Hong Kong Elections

11 September 2012

The results of the legislative elections in Hong Kong last week revealed the poisoned chalice of the British colonial inheritance. Making money was always more important than cementing democracy in the tiny island. But the democratic will of the people was plain to see in the elections. Voter turn-out among the 3.5m electorate was over 50%, higher than the previous legislative poll in 2008.

For the first time, 40 of the 70 seats on Hong Kong\'s governing legislative council were directly elected. Under the current laws, the rest were chosen by small groups of electors selected along economic and professional lines, a system typical of British ‘democracy’ in the 19th century.

In winning almost 60% of the votes the democratic camp was able to maintain its ability to block legislation. But winning 60% of the votes did not translate into 60% of the seats. Due to the blatantly unfair electoral system, the democratic camp won only 27 seats, while the ‘business camp’ won 43 seats.

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Awards

EU-Asia Centre Wins Awards

21 August 2012

The EU-Asia Centre has recently won a number of awards and tenders for studies, research and moderating conferences. These include the ASEM Business Forum, a tender on EU-Korea relations, another on EU-China relations and a grant from the Belgian MFA to organise a think tank meeting on EU-Asia relations.

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Island dispute

South Korea-Japan Islands Dispute

10 August 2012

The dispute between Japan and South Korea over the Dokdo/Takeshima islands has flared up again with the surprise visit of South Korea\'s president, Lee Myung-bak, to the islands. Mr Lee is the first South Korean president to visit them although the then Prime Minister Han Seung-soo visited in 2008, sparking a row with Japan. There is some speculation that President Lee visited the islands to divert attention from domestic problems.

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FTA talks with Japan

Commission Proposes FTA Talks with Japan

21 July 2012

On 18 July, the European Commission agreed to ask Member States for the green light to open free trade negotiations with Japan. At a press conference announcing the decision, Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht said that Japan was the EU’s second biggest trading partner in Asia and together both partners accounted for more than a third of world GDP. Opening up the Japanese market even further could increase the EU\'s GDP by almost one percent and boost EU exports to Japan by one third. De Gucht added that 400,000 additional jobs in Europe could be expected as a result of an FTA with Japan.

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Ashton in Asia

Ashton in Asia - Again

13 July 2012

Cathy Ashton seems to get it now. Her current visit to China and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) meeting in Phnom Penh is her fifth trip to Asia this year. The increased attention is also bringing results. ASEAN ministers agreed that the EU could join a regional treaty paving the way for the EU to take part in the East Asia summit. The PCA with the Philippines was signed in the margins. A first EU-US dialogue on Asia with Hillary Clinton was held. And en route to the ARF Ashton had a series of useful meetings in China.

EU-China

Ashton’s first stop was Beijing for the third EU-China Strategic Dialogue. The EU’s foreign policy chief had already established a good relationship with her main Chinese counterpart, State Councillor Dai Bingguo. On this occasion the nine hours of talks were cemented with a boat trip that allowed a number of sensitive issues to be discussed. She also met premier Wen Jiabao and Defence Minister Liang Guanglie.

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eu army

Should the EU be involved in Asian security?

13 July 2012

Asia is certainly capturing the interest of the EU. Just as Cathy Ashton completes her fifth visit to Asia a debate has started in the policy community about whether the EU should be more involved in Asian security.

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