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OBOREU

Can OBOR bring the EU and China closer together?

By Fraser Cameron, Director

17 April 2017

Although the geographical limits of OBOR have never been defined, the initiative has a domestic as much as an international context.It aims to close development gaps within China, provide an outlet for surplus capacity, and also improve connectivity between China and Europe. It is part of the overall Going Global strategy. OBOR enjoys strong support at the highest levels in China whereas European opinion is more cautious and waiting to see whether concrete projects materialize. No one doubts the need for massive infrastructure investment in the many countries between China and the EU but the OBOR initiative could face many potential pitfalls including political instability, terrorism, corruption, high costs, harsh terrain, long distances to the market, and tensions with other great powers. It is clear that far greater attention should be paid to political risk analysis for the successful implementation of OBOR. The Chinese should be wary of over-selling OBOR. Some official commentaries have tended to exaggerate the achievements to date. Shared interests should lead  to China-Europe cooperation on OBOR. The vision for OBOR is ambitious, but if well implemented, it has the potential to benefit the various countries and societies along the road, not least in promoting sustainable development. It could also impact on global governance. The popularity and success of OBOR initiative will depend not only on the economic gains and benefits, but also on successful cooperation on issues such as culture, tourism and people to people exchanges.

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korea

The presidential election in South Korea

By Mascha Peters

14 April 2017

On 10 March the constitutional court of South Korea upheld a parliamentary motion to impeach president Park Geun-hye, clearing the way for a snap presidential election on 9 May. A clear majority of South Koreans view the first-ever impeachment of a South Korean president as a chance for a fresh start after months of protests, which drew up to one million citizens onto the streets. With at least 61 members of the ruling New Frontier Party (NFP) voting in favour of Park’s impeachment, hopes are now high for a democratic boost for the country. The scale of civic protest is comparable only to the one which triggered the downfall of the last authoritarian regime 30 years ago.

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uk

Book Reviews - INGLORIOUS EMPIRE by Shashi Tharoor

By Fraser Cameron

5 April 2017

Theresa May’s first overseas trip was to India hoping to start the process of an UK-Indian FTA. But she and the Brexiteers who are calling for ‘Empire 2’ should read this well written, detailed account of British rule in India to try and understand what India really thinks about the UK. Playing on the UK’s alleged benevolent colonial role in India is unlikely to win friends. With a mass of detail and statistics, Shashi Tharoor, a former senior UN official and foreign affairs minister for Congress, demolishes the still-widespread view in the UK that British rule brought numerous benefits to the sub-continent.

The India that the British gradually conquered in the middle of the 18th century was responsible for 23% of global GDP. When the British departed in unseemly haste 200 years later this percentage had dropped to just over 3%. The British industrial revolution was built on the back of India’s thriving manufacturing, especially shipbuilding and textiles. India’s booming textile sector was destroyed by imposing punitive tariffs so that ‘the dark satanic mills’ in England could profit. The forced de-industrialisation of India meant that millions had to resort to subsistence agriculture thus worsening rural poverty.

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trump

How Trump can win the Nobel Peace Prize

By Fraser Cameron, Director

4 April 2017

Sir, You report (April 3) that President Donald Trump “is prepared to tackle North Korea alone” but it should be painfully clear to everyone that there is no military solution to the problem of Kim Jong Un’s nuclear weapons. There is no certainty that the US knows the whereabouts of all North Korea’s launch sites, and any attack would lead to a devastating retaliatory strike on Seoul — a metropolis of 10m just 60km from South Korea’s border with the North.

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G20

Asia wants a stronger global role for Europe

By Fraser Cameron, Director

17 February 2017

Asked in Washington last Friday (10 February) whether the EU was ready to take on a greater leadership role, Federica Mogerhini gave a clear answer. ‘Yes, we are ready’ said the EU’s foreign policy chief.

Given the international criticism and uncertainty surrounding Donald Trump’s entry into the White House could this indeed be an opportunity for the EU to come of age on the global stage?

At first sight the idea may sound far-fetched what with Brexit, the refugee crisis and the rise of populism throughout Europe. But the EU remains the largest market in the world, the largest provider of development assistance and the strongest supporter of the multilateral system. The European political system has been shaken up but to date there are no populist parties governing any major member state. It is this boring reliability that other powers, especially in Asia, are beginning to recognise as a strength, especially given the unpredictability surrounding the future of US foreign policy.

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SADF

Education: South Asia’s foundation for the future

By Transatlantic Academy

7 February 2017

This policy brief analyses the current state of basic education in South Asia and the different areas that require attention to improve it. This study focuses in particular in three key areas: the impediments to school inscription and attendance; the teachers’ role for quality education; the ideology in educat ion, in particular religion and nationalism. The policy brief argues that the qual i ty of schools rather than attendance is the main issue to be addressed. For this, teachers are fundamental. Likewise, the content of what is being taught must also be revised in order to promote a tolerant and inclusive world vision.

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