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Over the last decade, the global economic and strategic balance has been shifting eastwards. Asia is the largest and the most populous continent, with China and India alone already accounting for one-third of the global population. Asia is home to some of the world’s most dynamic and fastest growing economies, but also to some most complex security hotspots. From tensions on the Korean Peninsula to maritime territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas, there are a number of issues which have the potential to spark more serious conflict. The rise of China is affecting the balance of power in the region, and has resulted in increased competition with the US for influence. This is also increasingly visible in the Indian Ocean, which has become a new theatre of strategic competition between China and India. While there are various multilateral cooperative mechanisms in the region, such as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) or the East Asia Summit, their capacity to address such security issues remains limited.

As a key trading partner of many Asian economies, the EU has a major stake in regional stability, as well as in the security of its Sea Lanes of Communication. Since announcing its ‘pivot to Asia’ in 2012, Brussels has been trying to step up its security role in Asia by boosting cooperation with its various Strategic Partners, as well as through existing multilateral fora. The EUISS has been working to support these efforts by providing relevant expertise and analysis and conducting research in domains that have the potential to enhance regional stability and raise the EU’s security profile. Key areas of focus are maritime security and governance, preventive diplomacy, confidence and capacity building, crisis prevention, multilateralism, regional integration and institution building.

For the recent EUISS mini podcast series on China, click here.


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    11October 2012

    In no major country is less known about the way leaders are chosen or how foreign policy is made than China. There are certain rules and conventions, by which we know that every ten years there must be a generational change of top leaders.

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    05October 2012

    In this period of leadership transition, maintaining social stability is of the highest priority for decision-makers in China. While bureaucratic transparency and accountability may have gradually improved in some areas - especially in certain provinces or localities - due to more openness, better access to information and greater public oversight, the transition process at the top level is still shrouded in mystery and characterised by an almost total lack of transparency.

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    01October 2012

    After a decade of accentuating collective leadership, harmony and what many foreign observers have taken to call the ‘black box’ approach of top level Chinese decision-making, this year of succession is proving interesting – one might even go as far as to claim that a break in the politics and history is about to occur in China. 

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    10September 2012

    Big changes are in the offing in China with a new set of leaders due to take over this year. But, with regard to the economy, the terms of the debate have already been set – the 12th Five Year Plan launched last year will guide the economic policy of the country through to 2015. Timing these plans to not coincide precisely with the leadership changes ensures that there is economic continuity. In other words, the current leadership candidates will have already contributed their input to the Five Year Plan, which is how stability is ensured amidst political change.

  • 23July 2012

    The long-anticipated statement that American and European officials have been talking about for months has finally emerged. Announced on the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) on July 12, 2012, the statement puts an end to the political toing and froing that both sides of the Atlantic have been engaged in for the past several months. What should come next are concrete actions. 

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    12July 2012

    As many European governments introduce their biggest defence budget cuts in years, the impact on their collective military capabilities may be lessened by exploiting two directives designed to integrate the EU defence market.

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    27June 2012

    This Occasional Paper examines one of the ‘forgotten conflicts’, between the ‘Moros’ and the Philippine State, highlighting the EU's gradual move from the humanitarian and development arena towards a more explicitly political role in the peace process, in close cooperation with its Member States and with European NGOs.

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    15June 2012

    Considering its linkages with various areas such as energy security, economic growth and diplomacy, climate change is a major ‘game-changer’ in international relations. The development of the climate change regime presents the EU with both an opportunity and a threat, in as much as it may either accelerate Europe’s decline as a foreign policy actor or, on the contrary, reinvigorate its diplomatic ambitions.

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    13June 2012

    US-Pakistan relations are at an all time low, something not helped by the US encouragement of Pakistan's arch-rival India to play a more robust role in Afghanistan. Yet as Gerald Stang explains, with tact and patience a convergence of US-Pakistan interests is quite possible.

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    12June 2012

    For the moment, the US presence in the Asia Pacific region provi­des regional and extra-regional actors, including the EU, with security and stability that enable free naviga­tion, trade flows, peaceful development, and avoidance of violent conflicts or confrontations. But how can the EU assume a more active and strategic role in the region?