There has been intensified geopolitical jostling in the Asian sphere towards the African continent in recent years, driven by, on one hand, Asian regional dynamics, and on the other, the opportunities that changes in Africa’s political economy have presented to external players. The promising narrative of ‘Africa’s rise’ has seen a growing number of Asian states vying to hold sway in Africa’s expanding markets and infrastructure development agenda. The struggle for influence is also manifesting strongly in the diplomatic arena.
Asia’s rising economic footprint in Africa became a significant talking point and the literature on Asian influence in Africa, often dubbed as the ‘new scramble for Africa’, proliferated. Although all the major Asian countries had already established long-term relationships with Africa, the 2000s saw a substantial deepening of economic relations between Asia and Africa. China was undoubtedly the most prominent among them. Chinese trade, investment, and official financial flows to Africa grew substantially from 2000 onwards.
The EU-Japan Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) was signed and adopted in July 2018 in parallel with the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). For now, the agreement is only provisionally as it is pending final approval. The SPA will enter into force after all EU members ratify the agreement (the Japanese parliament already ratified it in December 2018). The agreement covers EU-Japanese cooperation in international politics, economics, and security.
Asia is not only home to enormous flows of trade, but also political and security challenges. Power imbalances at the regional level are especially visible and risk undermining global stability. In particular, after the crisis, external actors like the US and the EU will be looking for new roles in the region.
The 17+1 platform between China and Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) has always been mostly show with little substance. The February 2021 summit continues with this tradition. The novelty is, however, that the CEE countries are now visibly losing interest in the show, too. That puts a question mark on the future of the platform.
The summit meeting held last month in N’Djamena, Chad, between the G5 Sahel states and partner nations was, for the participants, a chance to applaud many purported gains since the January 2020 Pau Summit as well as the challenges ahead. It was also the occasion to repeatedly applaud the efforts of the European Union as well as EU member states in the Sahel.
The relations of the European Union (EU) with Libya over the last 30 years have been comparatively more difficult than any other Northern African country. Following the ousting of Gaddafi, European states were divided on the Libyan issue and have since proceeded with no clear sense of direction. Divisions among member states have resulted in an EU policy which can be characterized as having been both incoherent and often contradictory over the last ten years. However, there were some limited periods in which EU countries reached a common stance on Libya.
Italy-China relations have experienced significant shifts since the beginning of President Xi Jinping’s mandate, partly following the differing “Chinese views” of governing coalitions over those years, and a widespread outdated perception of the need to adapt bilaterally to the so-called “China’s rise”. Those swings have resulted in a very confused perception of Italy’s “China policy” on the part of both China itself and Italy’s European partners.
When Covid-19 hit the Balkans, it was too soon to foresee that besides local health systems the pandemic would impact regional geopolitics too. In the longstanding instability also caused by stagnation in the EU integration process for Balkan countries, China exploited the situation to increase its influence in the region.
Tracing the outline of British-Chinese relations as we enter 2021 is akin to surveying the landscape after an earthquake. The global geopolitical topography remains uncertain, but the triple trauma of Brexit ambiguity, a Trump presidency, and the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic, all appear to be on the way out. In late 2017, amid what remained of the Sino-British golden era’s afterglow, I was asked to write an article discussing the year ahead.
Since establishing diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1973, Spain has seen itself as an honest broker, maintaining a position of friendship with the PRC (above all through a scrupulous policy of “non-interference in internal affairs” vital to the PRC such as Taiwan or human rights) but never managing to establish a true partnership.
2020 has been a challenging year for the world economy. Although the magnitude of the shock triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic differed widely from one country to another, no economy was left unscathed.