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Trump confirms status quo in Asia

15 February 2017

By confirming that the US would follow the ‘One China’ policy and simultaneously reassuring PM Abe that the US-Japan alliance would remain ‘the cornerstone of security in Asia’, Trump has essentially confirmed the status quo in Asia.

There had been much speculation after Trump, as President-elect, received a phone call from President Tsai of Taiwan that he might use the “One China’ policy as a bargaining chip. But his top advisers convinced him this was a bad idea and in a phone call with President Xi he reiterated the long-standing China policy. In an exchange of letters Xi and Trump also shared wishes to continue a close and productive relationship.

These moves will be welcomed by most countries in Asia that were worried about some of the statements during Trump’s campaign when he called on Japan and S Korea to do more for their own defence and even said they might develop their own nuclear weapons.

The recent visit of Pentagon chief, General Mattis, to S Korea and Japan was also a sign of reassurance that Washington did not intend to change course in East Asia. Secretary of State Tillerson also rowed back from his tough remarks during his Senate confirmation hearing on the South China Sea. He now considers that there need be no increased military action beyond existing freedom of navigation operations.

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EU-India Think Tank Meetings

6 February 2017

Over the past two years the EU-Asia Centre and the EPC have managed a series of research projects aimed at increasing mutual understanding between India and the EU, promoting contacts between EU and Indian think tanks and developing new ideas on how the EU-India strategic partnership should evolve in the future.

It was agreed to focus the research projects in the following areas:

·      Global Governance;

·      International Security;

·      Promoting Sustainability. 

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EU, China advance amid global uncertainty

18 January 2017

When President Xi Jinping addresses the world's business and financial elites on Tuesday, he will have an opportunity to demonstrate China's commitment to globalization.

In light of the worrying, uncertain and often contradictory messages emanating from Trump Towers in recent weeks, political and business leaders attending Davos will ask each other just what US president-elect Donald Trump means for global political, economic, security and trade policies.

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ASEAN-EU Ministerial Strengthens Ties

17 October 2016

The ASEAN-EU ministerial meeting in Bangkok on 13-14 October was a quiet success although overshadowed by the death of the King of Thailand. The two sides reinforced their determination to deepen relations, had good discussions on common security challenges, and agreed to launch talks on a new Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement aimed at increasing flights between the two regions.

Ten EU foreign ministers made the journey to Bangkok with five on the ASEAN side. As Federica Mogherini was ill the EU delegation was led by Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak who reminded the meeting that the EU was the largest investor in the region and would continue pursuing its aim of bilateral FTAs with a view to a region to region FTA at a later date. He also promised that the EU would continue to support regional development including the Lower Mekong delta project.

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ADB kept its 2016 and 2017 GDP growth forecasts unchanged from its March estimates of 5.7% for each year.

ADB Forecast steady growth

27 September 2016

Developing Asia is expected to grow steadily despite external pressures and should meet earlier forecasts for 2016 and 2017, aided by resilience in the region\'s two largest economies—the People\'s Republic of China and India, says a new Asian Development Bank (ADB) study. 
In an update of its flagship annual economic publication, Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2016, ADB kept its 2016 and 2017 gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecasts unchanged from its March estimates of 5.7% for each year. 

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FTA with Vietnam is win-win deal

16 September 2016

The EU’s FTA with Vietnam will boost growth and investment according to the top officials who negotiated the deal. Speaking at a conference on 14 September, co-sponsored by the EU-Asia Centre, Tran Quoc Khahn, Vice Minister of industry and trade, and Mauro Petriccione, Deputy Director General, DG Trade, both expressed optimism about the potential for both sides to ensure a win-win outcome.

Opening the panel discussion, Fraser Cameron, Director of the EU-Asia Centre, said that free trade was under attack as never before from populist forces. It was important that all supporters of the FTA lobbied hard to ensure ratification of the EU-Vietnam agreement. The FTA was a potential model for future agreements with SE Asian countries.

Mr Petriccione said that the EU had developed very close economic relations with Vietnam in the past decade and the two economies were largely complementary. Vietnam had embraced free trade quicker than most Asian countries. Vietnam was involved in the supply chains of many European companies. He expected ratification to be done by 2018.

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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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