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EU-China Summit

1 August 2016

The 18th EU-China summit that took place on 12-13 July in Beijing was held against the background of the landmark Hague ruling on the South China Sea (SCS) and the dispute on market economy status (MES). The Hague ruling, published during the actual summit, comprehensively rejected China’s claims to enjoy sovereignty over most of the SCS and criticised China for its island building activities. Inevitable there were different views on the ruling at the summit but it did not completely dominate the agenda. The EU statement on the SCS was not as strong as some had wished which reflected differences between the Member States.

The main dispute at the summit was over market economy status (MES) with Chinese leaders arguing that it should be granted automatically under the terms of their WTO accession. EU leaders said that the EU position was still under discussion but the prospects for MES were not helped by the massive over-capacity in the Chinese steel industry which was causing political problems in several member States. 

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International Reactions to the South China Sea Ruling

20 July 2016

The international community reacted swiftly to the Hague tribunal ruling with a majority of views calling on Beijing to accept the decision. But several statements from ASEAN members were more cautious simply taking note of the decision and urging the peaceful resolution of disputes.

China’s position was very blunt stating that ‘the award is null and void and has no binding force. China neither accepts nor recognizes it.’ It criticised the unilateral action of the Philippines which was a move taken in bad faith and designed to deny China\'s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea.

Only Pakistan supported the Chinese position stating that it opposes any imposition of unilateral will on others, and respects China\'s statement of optional exception in light of Article 298 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

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Hague Rules against China

12 July 2016

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague has supported the Philippines in its case against China. The Court’s ruling stated that ‘there was no evidence that China had historically exercised exclusive control over the waters or resources. China said that the ruling was ‘ill-founded’ and would not bind China in its rightful claims.

The Court also stated that China had caused ‘severe harm to the coral reef environment’ by building artificial islands. Although the ruling is binding under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Court has no powers of enforcement. 

By coincidence the ruling was announced just as EU and China leaders were starting their annual summit talks in Beijing. In a reference to the ruling, the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, said that ‘the rule-based international order is in our common interest and both China and the EU have to protect it, as this is in our people\'s best interest.’

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Beyond MES: Brussels stakeholders share their views on EU-China relations

6 July 2016

In this video Brussels stakeholders share their views on EU-China relations beyond the Market Economy Status.

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EU Global Strategy

The EU’s Global Strategy and Asia

1 July 2016

The Global Strategy presented by Federica Mogherini to the European Council last week called for a deepening of economic diplomacy and an increased security role for the EU in Asia.

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Council conclusions on EU strategy with Myanmar/ Burma

25 June 2016

On 20 June, the EU adopted Council conclusions on the future of EU-Myanmar relations which are based on the Joint EEAS/ Commission Communication \"Elements for an EU strategy vis-à-vis Myanmar/ Burma.\"

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china eu strategy paper

New China Strategy Paper

22 June 2016

The EU’s new China strategy paper published on 22 June seeks to map out the EU’s interests in dealing with China over the next five years. It is strangely entitled \"Elements for a new EU strategy on China\" which would indicate that it does not seek to be a comprehensive report. 

The paper, a joint project of the EEAS and European Commission, has a strong economic dimension. It remarks that ‘China\'s political, economic and social development matter to the EU more than ever. They present major opportunities for the EU, especially in creating jobs and growth in Europe, but need to be addressed in a coordinated and effective way in order to produce the best possible outcomes for both the EU and China.’

While it recognizes the economic importance of China the paper does not shy away from criticizing the slow pace of internal reform and the lack of market access for European business. It suggests the EU experience could be beneficial for China. 

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Mogherini Yang Jiechi

Mogherini meets Yang Jiechi

20 June 2016

On 10 June Federica Mogherini received China’s State Council Yang Jiechi for a regular meeting of the EU-China high level strategic dialogue. It was a useful time for the Dialogue as it helped to prepare the next summit due to be held in Beijing in mid-July.

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Tsai Ing Wen

Tsai Ing-Wen - new president of Taiwan

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.

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Rodrigo Duterte elected President of the Philippines

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.

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