The South Korean public opinion has become increasingly wary of China and the supposed “Olympic spirit” of the Beijing Winter Games has not in any way softened the criticism. Two specific episodes tossed a lit match on Korea’s bourgeoning anti-Chinese sentiments. During the opening ceremony, the depiction of a woman in hanbok (Korea's traditional clothing) as representing one of China’s 56 ethnic minorities was viewed in South Korea as the Chinese latest attempt at claiming provenance for Korean culture staples.
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On 21 September 2021, the South Korean boy band BTS attended the 76th UN General Assembly (UNGA) accompanying President Moon Jae-in, who appointed the group as “special presidential envoy for future generations and culture”. In their address, BTS conveyed an overall optimistic message, promoting the COVID-19 vaccine and lauding young people for their resiliency. That event reflected the popularity of K-contents worldwide, from music to cinema.
"China is Putin’s best ally" or " China lets Russia attack Ukraine so that it can later decide to invade Taiwan... ". These are some of the assumptions that have been heard more frequently over the last few days about the war in Ukraine. Indeed, the situation is much more complex than that. China is not simply an ally of Russia and, barring drastic changes that may arise with no prior notice in these uncertain times, it has no intention of invading Taiwan in the short term. Let’s see why.
War has come back to Europe just as the world’s centre of gravity was shifting from Europe to Asia. If today’s focus is on supporting Ukraine’s fight to resist the Russian invasion, long-term concerns for European security remain centred in Asia. It is past time for Europe to discuss whether to step up its economic and strategic presence in Asia, especially the Indo-Pacific region; the urgent challenge is to figure out how such a game will be played.
Following Ukrainian President Zelensky’s announcement of the creation of a new International Legion of Territorial Defense, essentially inviting foreigners to join the fight against Russia and promising them arms upon arrival, reactions have been mixed. Whereas some saw his plea as a desperate call for help and urged troops and civilians to respond to the call, others expressed greater concerns that this could lead to a renewed flood of foreign fighters.
Diplomacy has retreated as the smouldering Ukraine crisis took a decisive turn this week. On February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched “special military operations” with the objective of “demilitarising Ukraine” but not “occupying” it. Just days prior to this, Russia had upped the ante by recognising the sovereignty of Peoples’ Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, two of Ukraine’s eastern-most provinces and deploying Russian peace-keeping forces in these territories.
Welcome to Pivot to Asia, our new monthly newsletter on key issues and trends in Asia. Today, we turn the spotlight on the France's Ministerial Forum for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and on its implications for the Eu’s policy towards Asia and China.
France reinforces its Space Strategy to compete in the new arena, with a focus on EU cooperation.
The 5th and most recent European Union-African Union (EU-AU) Summit took place in Abidjan on 29-30 November 2017. Its focus was on investing in youth and managing migration/mobility. The 6th EU-AU Summit, due to take place in fall 2020, was postponed due to the global health crisis: it will finally take place 17-18 February 2022 in Brussels, under the French presidency of the Council of the EU and Senegalese chairmanship of the African Union (AU).
It is often said that Africa is not a country, but when it comes to Europe-Africa relations, we should always bear in mind that Europe is not either. The European Union (EU) is pursuing a fresh and ambitious strategy for the continent, while nearly all Member States carry out their own Africa policy autonomously.