Asia and Europe in a New Era of Great-power Ri­valry

Global Asia - - CONTENTS - By Jo Inge Bekkevold

europe is be­ing pulled into a de­bate on how best to re-en­gage asian se­cu­rity is­sues with­out risk­ing re­la­tions with bei­jing.

With the end of the Cold

War, Europe’s en­gage­ment with Asian se­cu­rity is­sues un­der­stand­ably di­min­ished, but with the rise of China and the Sino-us con­test for in­flu­ence in the re­gion, the con­ti­nent is find­ing it­self in­creas­ingly pulled into a de­bate about how best to re-en­gage with­out jeop­ar­diz­ing its re­la­tions with Bei­jing. More­over, Rus­sia’s greater as­sertive­ness in Europe and its closer re­la­tions with China mean the Euro­pean Union is be­ing squeezed into mak­ing tough de­ci­sions about its role in Asia. Jo Inge Bekkevold out­lines the chal­lenges. IN The POST-COLD WAR era, eco­nomic growth, mul­ti­lat­er­al­ism and in­creased con­nec­tiv­ity have marginal­ized the se­cu­rity agenda in both asia and europe. In 1994, sin­ga­pore Prime Min­is­ter Goh Chok Tong launched the idea of an asia-europe Meet­ing as a plat­form for di­a­logue be­tween asia and europe, and it was only fit­ting that the “New Com­pre­hen­sive asia-europe Part­ner­ship for Greater Growth” was cho­sen as the theme of the first asia-europe sum­mit Meet­ing (asem) in 1996. More than two decades later, al­though eco­nomic co-op­er­a­tion still con­sti­tutes the back­bone of asia-europe re­la­tions, China’s rise and Rus­sia’s new as­sertive­ness have brought great-power pol­i­tics back to the top of the agenda. In this new era, the strate­gic the­aters of asia and europe are once again closely linked to each other on the grand chess­board of in­ter­na­tional af­fairs.

europe and asia shap­ing de­vel­op­ments in each other’s re­gions is, of course, not a new phe­nom­e­non. euro­pean im­pe­ri­al­ism had a deep im­pact on asian his­tory, and the legacy of the Opium Wars is still ev­i­dent in China’s cur­rent world out­look. The an­glo-ja­panese al­liance of 1902 in­flu­enced the out­come of the Russo-ja­panese war, and later opened the way for Ja­pan’s takeover of Ger­man con­ces­sions in China at the 1919 Ver­sailles Peace Con­fer­ence fol­low­ing the First World War. The euro­pean pow­ers sup­ported the trans­fer of the con­ces­sion to Ja­pan and the bit­ter dis­ap­point­ment in China over this de­ci­sion in­spired one of the most im­por­tant in­tel­lec­tual turn­ing points in mod­ern Chi­nese his­tory — the May Fourth Move­ment. The Korean War ce­mented the Cold War as a global phe­nom­e­non and led to in­creased

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