Academic journal article International Journal of China Studies

European Perspective of China, ASEAN and East Asian Regionalism: A Journey of Discovery+

Academic journal article International Journal of China Studies

European Perspective of China, ASEAN and East Asian Regionalism: A Journey of Discovery+

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper is about a European perspective of the relationship of China with its neighbours, with ASEAN and East Asian regionalism. Is there one? Examined will be instances where Asia and ASEAN figure in EU-China dialogues against the background of the EU's relations with Asia and ASEAN.

Keywords: international relations, regionalism, EUAsia relations

JEL Classification: F51, F53, F55, F59

1. Introduction

What is the European perspective of China's relations with the rest of Asia? This is a good question. This is my journey of discovery. There is much written on the European Union's relations with Asia, with ASEAN, with individual countries ofAsia and I have contributed to this along with other European academics mostly with a splattering ofAsian academics. I am not aware of anyone writing on a European perspective of China's relations with the rest ofAsia although I am sure that in talks between the European Union and its members states and Asian partners China and Asia appear on the agenda in exchanges. For me, this paper is a new direction I am going and I am going to be as original as I can without going to quote other authors as far as possible. I am also aware that I am in my head been informed by readings and by discussions with colleagues, with officials at Brussels' level. However, I will examine what comes out of the European Union and my own past work. An original contribution to a corpus of knowledge is your own. Let me therefore try to see what my head comes out with in this journey.

2. First Thoughts of Europe

When I speak of Europe here, I exclude Russia, that huge Eurasian continent. I am really restricting myself to the area covered by the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). I am excluding, therefore, countries in the neighbourhood of the EU like the Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Turkey, East and South East of the European Union.

3. European Military Involvement in Asia?

In thinking of a European perspective of China's relations with the rest of Asia or a European perspective towards Asia in general, one must from the very beginning here discount any European role in dispatching a European military (there is no European armed forces) to war, to any offensive role. I refer here to the European Union whose security and defence policy is more into peacekeeping, peace-making with its Battle Groups under what is called the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). We have seen the EU's participation with ASEAN in Aceh; individual European countries' troops in East Timor. They were not an offensive force. Any kind ofmilitary operation in an offensive/defensive role in Asia should be addressed rather to NATO and we are seeing European troops under the NATO umbrella in Afghanistan. There is a EU Police Mission in Afghanistan (EUPOL) since mid-June 2007 and extended to 31 st May 201 3 under CSDP.1 Whether such kind of operations can be envisaged further afield is unknown but one can be sure that neither the EU nor NATO would want to end up in a position to take sides in any armed conflict, war between states in South, South East or North East Asia. One must also note that the European publics are generally against war and we are seeing that governments have a hard time to justify higher defence budgets. Will the Ukraine crisis change the European public's attitude on increasing defence spending? We are seeing that the European countries of NATO are unable to operate without the logistical support of the US - the Balkans, Libya are examples - and hence were not really burden-sharing with the US to her dismay. Solution is to work together in arms production and even this seems difficult. Hence, there will be a lot of talking, convincing, sanctioning and leave military matters in the hands of the US in Asia. However, it does say that it has a strong interest in partnership and cooperation with the US on foreign and security policy challenges related to East Asia. …

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