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ASEAN at 50

ASEAN at 50

By Ariane Combal-Weiss

24 November 2017

A region which can stand on its own feet, strong enough to defend itself from any negative influence from outside the region.” This is how Indonesian Foreign Minister Adam Malik envisioned ASEAN at the organisation’s inaugural conference on 8 August 1967. Faced with the threat of communism, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand agreed to establish the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to promote regional peace and prosperity. Later, five other countries Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam joined the project. Over time, the ASEAN has equipped itself with stronger institutional mechanisms to broaden cooperation in an ever-growing array of fields. This has been helpful in promoting peace and stability and fostering trust in the region, despite huge economic differences and recurring tensions between the members. ASEAN is struggling to deal with the rise of China and currently faces a major challenge in its response to the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar.

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eu asia

“It’s Asia, Stupid”: Time for the EU to Deepen Relations with Asia

By Fraser Cameron

9 November 2017

Global economic power is shifting rapidly to Asia, now the EU’s most im- portant trade partner. The EU has a vital stake in the peace and security of Asia as few of its policy goals, including climate change and preservation of the multilateral system, can be achieved without  the  positive  engagement of Asia. This is even more important because of the attitude of President Trump to Asia and global affairs. The EU thus needs to give greater priority to Asia and develop a more coherent policy approach.

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We have just seen the re-election of Shinzo Abe and Xi Jinping, leaders of Asia’s two biggest economies. Earlier this year Moon Jae-in won South Korea’s snap elections, ending a decade of conservative power. Abe and Xi are the most powerful leaders of

China, Japan, South Korea. Prospects for Détente?

By Mascha Peters

31 October 2017

We have just seen the re-election of Shinzo Abe and Xi Jinping, leaders of Asia’s two biggest economies. Earlier this year Moon Jae-in won South Korea’s snap elections, ending a decade of conservative power. Abe and Xi are the most powerful leaders of their countries in decades while Moon also enjoys no real domestic challenger. Given the fact that these three leaders will now enjoy some years of stability what does this mean for trilateral relations? Could Xi, Abe and Moon overcome the historical shadows that bedevil their relations and move their three countries down the path of reconciliation?

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World has a big stake in China's future

By Fraser Cameron

27 October 2017

General Secretary Xi Jinping made several references to "a new era" for China in his report to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. Among the interesting hints were China becoming more open, more welcoming of foreign investment, and being ready to play a greater international role.

The main narrative running through Xi's report was his conviction that only the CPC could lead China into the new era. He recognized that there were still many problems to overcome, including regional and wealth inequality, pollution and the quality of healthcare. He also said China would never again face a century of humiliation.

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ASEAN – Still Democratic?

By Ariane Combal-Weiss

23 October 2017

In this 50th anniversary year of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), there are increasing concerns about the decline in democracy in the region. In the past year, the EU has repeatedly expressed alarm over the systematic human rights abuses and violations of fundamental freedoms in different ASEAN countries. The European Parliament’s resolution on 3 October, for example, stated that the EP was “deeply concerned at the erosion of democracy and the violations of human and minority rights and continued repression and discrimination in countries of the region.”[1] The declining democracy is also affecting EU policy towards the region. The FTA negotiations with Thailand are on hold while during her visit to ASEAN countries in March, Trade Commissioner Malmström warned that the human rights abuses in the Philippines could threaten the Philippines’ exports to the EU and the negotiations towards a bilateral FTA.[2] Other EU officials and parliamentarians have made similar statements condemning the restriction of civil liberties and fundamental rights in the region,[3] and supporting the ceaseless commitment of human rights activists.[4]There have also been critical voices from within ASEAN. Under the 2012 ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, all ten members pledged to protect human rights and democracy. In September, however, the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) warned about the worrying state of civil liberties and fundamental rights in Southeast Asia.[5]

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EU’s Tough Statement on Myanmar

By Ariane Combal-Weiss

17 October 2017

The EU Foreign Affairs Council this week adopted a tough statement on Myanmar talking of the “deliberate action to expel a minority” taking place in Myanmar. [1]  Although the Rohingya crisis is not new, recent months have seen a dramatic escalation of violence in the Rakhine State with over half a million Rohingya fleeing to neighbouring Bangladesh. This mass exodus was described by the UN as a “textbook example of an ethnic cleansing”.

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China and the new International Order

By Tim Rühlig

1 October 2017

“China is making a path for other nations around the world who are trying to figure out not simply how to develop their countries, but also how to fit into the international order in a way that allows them to be truly independent, to protect their way of life and political choices in a world with a single massively powerful centre of gravity.”

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The Rakhine State Danger to Myanmar's Transition

By International Crisis Group

11 September 2017

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The Sino-Indian BRI equation

By Observer Research Foundation

19 July 2017

Over a month has passed since India walked a lonely path and boycotted the Belt and Road Forum, China’s showpiece international conference on its most ambitious economic and political initiative in recent times. The decision made news and provoked strong and divergent opinions, not least within India.

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Merkel vs. Trump at Hamburg G20

By Fraser Cameron

1 July 2017

Traditionally G20 summits are meticulously prepared in advance by a group of senior officials known as Sherpas. The final communique is often drafted and largely agreed on a couple of weeks before the leaders meet. Not this time.

As world leaders prepare to descend on Hamburg on 7-8 July the German hosts have not even circulated a draft statement, such is the gulf between Merkel’s wishes and Trump’s refusal to go along with what had previously been mainstream G 20 positions on trade and climate change.

The Europeans already had a taste of the Trump medicine at the G7 summit in Sicily in May. Trump refused to endorse either the Paris climate change agreements or the benefits of free trade.

Right after the G7 meeting, Merkel embarked on a round of meetings with fellow G20 leaders in an effort to shore up support for the Paris agreements and globalisation. She can rely not only on fellow Europeans but China and even India to back her views. She thus hopes to gain sufficient support to isolate Trump in Hamburg. But it is doubtful if isolation will lead to a change of heart by the US president.

Trump is likely to be further annoyed by the European Commission’s decision to fine Google two billion euros, quite a tidy sum even by Trump’s standards. In turn, the US Senate has angered Merkel by threatening German companies involved in the Nordstream project bringing gas from Russia to Germany. They added insult to injury by stating that Germany should instead buy liquid gas from the United States.

The president has caused further consternation by hinting that he will ban steel imports from Europe and elsewhere under the guise of protecting national security.

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