Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s recent visit to London was widely hailed as a great commercial success, leading to energy and finance deals worth billions. Yet the UK’s future in Asia extends far beyond China. Going beyond mutually beneficial bilateral relations, the UK is focused on reinforcing a multi-faceted approach encompassing business, security, and values.
The Rt Hon Hugo Swire, MP, minister of state at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, addressed the UK’s Asia-Pacific policy and explained both the UK’s current involvement and future aspirations in the region. Carnegie’s Douglas H. Paal moderated.
See the following link for a transcript of the speech:
“The UK in the Asian Century”
The European Union Centre in Singapore has published a new background paper that offers a nice summary of the EU’s advance into Asia as security partner, with a provocative title:
The European Union and global security: is the EU becoming the indispensable partner?
Author: Dr. Cesare Onestini, EU Visiting Fellow, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy National University of Singapore
Victor Cha, senior adviser and the inaugural holder of the Korea Chair at CSIS, director of Asian studies and
holds the D.S. Song-KF Chair in the Department of Government and School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.
Victor Cha thinks Vladimir Putin is a threat to Asia. I have my own reasons to agree with the general idea that what is happening now in Ukraine can have consequences for Asian security. Read about his reasons here.
What does the present crisis in Ukraine have to do with Asian security?
Here (link) is an article that provides some ideas: Ukraine’s Lessons for Asia.
For me the main point to take away is that China’s choice not to condemn Russia’s action reveals that its rhetoric about standing up for the principle of non-interference in internal affairs of sovereign nations is tactical and expedient, rather than a genuinely held ideological position. Bonnie Glaser at CSIS thinks Beijing is agonizing about this, but so far their actions speak louder than words. It is therefore reasonable to assume that China will not be constrained by this principle against taking action similar to that currently under way in Crimea. Russia may, ironically, be among those to suffer the consequences.
Lessons so far:
1. China’s support for non-interference principle is a tactical rather than a genuinely ideological position.
2. UN Security Council members and the international community are not willing to uphold UN Charter principles to defend sovereignty where the interests of a militarily powerful and/or nuclear armed state are at stake.
3. NATO, US and EU are war-wary and cannot be relied on to back up talk with action on the ground in support of a partner or just cause.
4. Putin’s Russia is a gambler emboldened by success. Fuse of over-reach is lit and burning down.
5. Ethnic solidarity is the stratcom successor to the ‘humanitarian intervention’ trope. Beware passport diplomacy and ‘protection of nationals’ narratives.
Shada Islam gives us a useful summing up of where EU-Asia relations are headed, and offers some proposals on how to go further:
Not yet a “pivot” – but EU-Asia relations get more active and intense
Shada strikes a sober tone -
“Developing a truly European strategy for sustained engagement with Asia, however, will require more than a few discussions, visits and communiques. EU policymakers need to undertake a more in-depth reflection of Europe’s many interests, significant strengths and weaknesses in dealing with a more self-confident Asia. Yes, there is a marked improvement in EU-Asia engagement-and this should be celebrated. But much still remains to be done.”
Indeed. For all the talk of ‘strategic’ this and ‘comprehensive’ that in this article and in the official documents, most of the EU action is still about trade and investment. So-called ‘non-traditional’ security may play to EU strengths, but I can’t help wondering – how much interest can it excite from Asian nations with increasingly serious ‘traditional’ security worries?
This reminded me of another article on ‘friends of Europe‘ by former EU Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou, who takes quite a different view -
‘…in order to restart, Europe needs decisions and leaders, and in reference to Europe’s international influence, this means engaging simultaneously in a soft, smart and also hard power game.”
People sometimes ask ‘what should be Europe’s role in Asian security?’, but surely we have first to understand the role European nations and their institutions are already playing.
Something that doesn’t often get discussed (excepting the EU embargo on arms to China) is the increasingly important role played by Europe as supplier of defence equipment and technology to Asia, Continue reading
JDS Kashima passes Fort Blockhouse as she enters Portsmouth Harbour, July 2013
The must-read blog on UK defence ‘Thin Pinstripe Line‘ has details about the UK Royal Navy deployment way East of Suez this year:
It’s that bear again. Big exercises in Asia, and now this: Russia’s Pacific Fleet to Receive New Warships in 2014
Russia the double-headed eagle – It’s European, it’s Asian. Makes you think, doesn’t it? French built warship, Russian flag and soon to sail the Pacific. These are the first ships added to their Pacific fleet since the break-up of the Soviet Union. Continue reading
Pivot watchers may assume that what Don Rumsfeld called ‘new Europe’ (countries that joined the EU and NATO in latter post USSR years) are concerned at the US Pivot to Asia because the drawdown of America’s commitment to European security will reduce the credibility of the deterrent against Russia on their borders. Some members of ‘old Europe’ further west are Continue reading
UK Defence Engagement in Myanmar
Is this more evidence for the vigour of the UK Pivot to Asia? Myanmar’s President Thein Sein is visiting the UK and France. The headlines about the visit to France refer to cooperation on energy and warnings on human rights. Is the UK alone in Europe in engaging with Myanmar on security issues? Or is Paris just being more discreet about such issues so as not to raise hackles in Beijing?