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EU fighting a lone battle for human rights in Asia

By Fraser Cameron

17 April 2018

The European Union has a long tradition of promoting democracy and human rights in Asia, often in informal cooperation with the United States. Until 2014, it seemed that things were moving in the right direction, but since then there has been backsliding in China and several Southeast Asian countries. Xi Jinping has tightened control in China, the military endures in Thailand, Duterte’s drug purge is ongoing in the Philippines, the Tatmadaw commits ethnic cleansing in Myanmar, Hun Sen and his party have dissolved the opposition in Cambodia, and so on.

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china arctic

China’s Arctic Policy

By Ariane Combal-Weiss

13 April 2018

China has released its first-ever Arctic policy white paper, outlining its future priorities including better understanding, protection and development of the region in addition to participating in its governance. Its approach is remarkably similar to that of the EU which has a strong emphasis on the environment and agreed international rules of behaviour. Inevitably the Chinese strategy has been dubbed the ‘Polar Silk Road’ and seen as part of its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative. 

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cptpp

Asia’s Trade Spaghetti Bowl -TPP11 and RCEP

By Dandan Wan

6 April 2018

Dubbed the TPP-11, the CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) was signed by the remaining 11 TPP members on 8 March in Chile exactly one year after President Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement. Although the US exit reduced the size of the deal, which originally represented 40 percent of the global economy worth US $28 trillion[1], the new agreement strikes a blow against protectionism and reaffirms the members’ commitment to greater trade liberalization and regional integration in the Asia-Pacific.



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plastics

EU-Asia cooperation on plastics

By Ariane Combal-Weiss

3 April 2018

Both the EU and Asia are facing a massive problem of how to tackle plastic pollution. Plastics are a part of our daily lives and have brought about a revolution in sanitation and food sectors. But their carbon footprint is a disaster for our environment, including the oceans. 

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13

President Xi cements control

By Dandan Wan

29 March 2018

The highlight of the 13th National People’s Congress this month was the amendment to the constitution removing the two terms limits on the presidency thus allowing Xi Jinping to remain in office for a third term. President Xi also consolidated his power by ensuring that his supporters were appointed to top state and government positions. Despite his exclusion from the Politburo standing committee last October due to age limits, Wang Qishan, the former anti-graft tsar and Xi’s longstanding ally, was elected as Vice President. He is expected to be in charge of China’s global interests, especially the hot issue of dealing with the Trump administration amid the looming Sino-US trade war. This appointment is significant since the end of term limits extends to the Vice President. Li Zhanshu, the most trusted ally of Xi, took the helm of the national legislature body (NPC) to pursue China’s ongoing legal reform. Liu He, another Xi confidante and key economic advisor, was elevated to one of the four Vice Premiers under Li Keqiang.

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japan china trade asean

China and Japan rivalry in ASEAN

By Dandan Wan

23 February 2018

As the 600m strong Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) becomes more cohesive as a political and economic actor, Japan and China are competing for influence within the bloc. In the past 20 years, ASEAN has made steady progress in promoting regional integration. It has established the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), East Asia’s first multilateral security dialogue the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the East Asian Summit (EAS) and the ASEAN Plus frameworks with various partners including the EU. 

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Abe-Trump

Japan’s Indo-Pacific Strategy Gains Momentum

By Ariane Combal-Weiss

14 February 2018

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific’ strategy has gained currency over the last few months, much to the irritation of China. The term ‘Indo-Pacific’ was promoted by President Trump during his Asia tour and has been picked up by political leaders in India and Australia. On 12 November the four powers held talks covering the rules-based order in Asia, freedom of navigation and overflight in maritime commons, respect for international law, enhancing connectivity, maritime security and terrorism. Although each country offered a slightly different interpretation of the outcome, there was much talk about shared vision and interests.

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Aung San Suu Kyi

Myanmar- a Complicated Country

By Fraser Cameron

29 January 2018

While much of the outside world expresses outrage over the fate of the Rohingya, it is difficult to find anyone in Myanmar who sympathises with their situation. The government line that the recent troubles were started by ‘Muslim terrorists’ is widely shared. Most locals accept that there might have been an over-reaction from the armed forces but the common view is that the Rohingya (often described as ‘West Bengali’ or ‘Muslims living in Rakhine state’) had no right to be in Myanmar anyway. These widely-held views are reinforced through social media, especially Facebook, which Western diplomats say is full of anti-Rohingya sentiments. 

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tw

Cross-Strait Relations

By Dandan Wan

10 January 2018

Tensions across the Taiwan Straits have increased since Tsai Ing-wen, the leader of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), won the presidential election in May 2016.

Instead of acknowledging the “1992 Consensus” explicitly, she referred ambiguously to “the fact of the 1992 talks”, which triggered Beijing’s suspicion of her pro-independence stance. The “1992 consensus” is generally viewed as “One China, Respective Interpretation.” Under this formula, both Mainland China and Taiwan acknowledge that they belong to one China but they can keep to their own interpretation of what exactly “China” means. It was considered as the premise for the two sides to conduct dialogue by Mainland China.

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Greece and Chinese FDI

Greece and Chinese FDI

By Plamen Tonchev

27 December 2017

In early December 2017, the Athens-based Institute of International Economic Relations (IIER) released a report, titled “Chinese Investment in Greece and the Big Picture of Sino-Greek Relations” (http://idos.gr/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Chinese-Investment-in-Greece_4-12-2017.pdf). The study, co-authored by myself and Ms Polyxeni Davarinou, attempts to shed light on what is seen by many as an emerging Sino-Greek tandem on the southeastern flank of the EU. 

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