28 May 2016
Tsai Ing-Wen’s, the first female president of Taiwan, used her inauguration speech to call for internal changes while maintaining the status quo in Cross-Straits relations.
12 May 2016
On 9 May the Philippines elected Rodrigo Duterte President of Southeast Asia’s oldest democracy. While official results are still to be declared, Duterte has won around 39 percent of the votes and the other candidates have already congratulated him.
9 May 2016
Japan’s prime minister Abe visited Brussels and other European capitals last week to prepare for the G7 summit in Japan at the end of the month. The President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, thanked Abe for placing the migration and refugee crisis at the top of the G7 agenda.
28 April 2016
This week’s announcement that Australia has awarded the biggest arms contract in its history ($40 bn) to France provides further fuel to the arms race in Asia. Already last year Asia overtook Europe in terms of defence spending with the total reaching $340bn according to IISS figures. This year the trend is continuing with overall defence expenditure likely to increase by a further 6%. Asian countries are shopping not only for submarines but new generation fighter aircraft, amphibious landing craft and other advanced weaponry. European defence contractors are now looking to Asia to boost falling sales at home.
The reasons for the rise in defence spending include the increasing tensions in the East and South China seas and the unpredictable nature of the regime in North Korea. China accounts for about 40% of the total spending and has ambitious plans to modernise its armed forces and increase its power projection capabilities.
8 April 2016
HR/VP Mogherini pays her first visit to Indonesia on 8-9 April before heading for consultations in Japan. Her two-day visit to Jakarata will help prepare the visit of President Jokowi to Brussels on 21 April. Together with Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, Mogherini will co-host the first Indonesia-EU Ministerial Strategic Dialogue. The bilateral agenda is expected to cover a range of issues, including political and security cooperation, countering radicalisation, advancing trade relations, protecting the environment and combatting climate change. There will also be a focus on the current situation in the South China Sea and the Middle East.
1 April 2016
After a four year gap the leaders of India and the EU met in Brussels on 30 March for their 13th summit. Even though it was a short summit, the meeting yielded a surprisingly substantive number of deliverables. Prime Minister Modi and Presidents Tusk and Juncker expressed themselves very satisfied with the progress made.
The summit produced a joint statement of six pages, two joint declarations on water, energy and climate, a renewed joint declaration on counter-terrorism, a common agenda on migration and mobility and a comprehensive roadmap for EU-India relations in the next five years. The latter is arguably the most important outcome if the relationship should evolve into one that deserves its title of “strategic partnership”. In recent years, diplomatic irritations and diverging opinions on trade liberalization have stood in the way of closer EU-Indian relations.
17 March 2016
EUAC: Welcome to the new position. What were your first thoughts on being appointed as MD for Asia?
GW: I was delighted to be moving to a region which is characterised by its dynamic growth, its diversity and home to four of the EU’s strategic partners. I travelled frequently to Asia when I was spokesman for Commissioner Chris Patten so I am very pleased to reconnect with Asia.
EUAC: Why does Asia matter to Europe?
GW: As HR/VP Mogherini often says security is global in nature.
17 March 2016
Htin Kyaw, a close ally of Aung San Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy (NLD) party swept to victory in historic elections in November, has been elected Myanmar’s first civilian president for over half a century.
29 February 2016
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has agreed on tough new sanctions in response to North Korea\'s recent nuclear test and missile launch. Over the past 10 years, North Korea has conducted four nuclear tests and launched six long-range missiles - all in violation of Security Council resolutions.
After lengthy negotiations, principally between the US and China, both sides accepted the need to send a strong signal to Pyongyang by imposing the strongest set of sanctions imposed by the Security Council in more than 20 years.
The new sanctions aim to cut off the trade and funding of North Korea’s nuclear programme and its military, and to target the DPRK leadership and officials directly involved in these illicit activities. These include:
4 February 2016
The EU does not expect any major changes following the results of the communist party congress in Hanoi. Officials consider that the re-election of General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong will provide for stability and continuity. The challenge of Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung failed as he had insufficient support within the party, with many of the old guard worried that he was pushing ahead too fast with his reform programme. Little is known about Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc who will replace Dung in a few months, nor the Minister of Public Security Tran Dai Quang, who will be the country\'s new president.
As regards EU-Vietnam relations both sides are pleased that the partnership and cooperation agreement (PCA) is nearly ratified – only three Member States still to ratify. The FTA is also complete and is being prepared for ratification.