In the past, we’ve debated whether China’s rise threatens the EU, whether European leaders really understand China and what China-EU relations should ultimately look like. We also asked you whether or not you thought the eurozone crisis spelt the end of the EU as a model for regional integration in Asia more generally – and in other regions (for example: will ASEAN be even less interested in the supranational approach after have seen the mess made in Europe).
Ignacio, for example, left us a comment saying:
Yes, I believe [the eurozone crisis] has acted and will continue to act as a deterrent for regional integration, all over the world. Countries are now much more cautious when it comes to integration.
At a recent Friends of Europe event, we had the opportunity to speak to Arif Havas Oegroseno, the ambassador of Indonesia to the EU and Belgium. The event was a discussion panel on the future of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), an interregional forum which consists of European and Asian nations. ASEM is supposed to strengthen the relationship between the two regions, and ensure peaceful and mutually-beneficial ties. We asked the ambassador what had been the impact of the current economic crisis on EU-Asia relations:
Whenever we’ve spoken about Asia in the past on Debating Europe, it has usually been in the context of the rise of China and the relative decline of Europe (a debate that was sparked off by a tweet from Carmen, who asked if China’s rise should make Europeans feel vulnerable and threatened). Certainly, many of our commenters admitted they felt uneasy about the rise of China; Simon, for example, called it “extremely worrying“, though others were optimistic (Herminio suggested that the EU “must work together with China, India and Brasil to conterbalance the disproportionate importance given to the US“).
More recently, tensions between China and its neighbour Japan have been severely tested over a disputed island chain, known as the Senkaku islands in Japan and the Diaoyu islands in China. With a more assertive and confident China increasingly becoming involved in territorial disputes with its neighbours, could interregional organisations like ASEM (and regional organisations like ASEAN) be a way to balance China’s rise and ensure a peaceful path towards global power status (if China hasn’t already achieved this)?
What do YOU think? How has the financial and economic crisis affected the relationship between Europe and Asia? Could interregional organisations such as ASEM (and regional organisations such as ASEAN) be a way to ensure the peaceful rise of China? Or has the crisis in the EU damaged the effectiveness of regional organisations in the eyes of the world? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.