Asian News Outlook. Archive by year: 2014 - 2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010

Asian News Outlook

EIAS reports on the news in Asia, highlighting important developments in relation to the EU. You can subscribe to our newsfeed through RSS.

16 April 2014

The UK has been accused of making ‘irresponsible comments’, as Beijing points the finger at London for using human rights issues as an excuse to intrude with internal affairs. Last week, China was regarded as a “country of concern” by Britain in its annual human rights report, as well as mentioning concern over “the forcible suppression of ethnic unrest in Tibet and Xingjian.” In response, China condemned Britain and called off talks with the UK over China’s human rights record, subsequently being offended by the label it had been given.

15 April 2014

While on these very same days, Washington and Tokyo are experiencing a tough time overcoming the difficult impasse in the negotiations over a wide-ranging, Asia-Pacific free trade agreement (TPP), Australia and Japan have sealed on Monday a long-awaited, comprehensive economic partnership agreement. The deal, officially known as the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement or JAEPA, comes after over seven years of negotiations, and has been greatly welcomed by both sides and defined by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott as of “historic significance” and as a reflection of the “shared values” between the two countries.

9 April 2014

Some 7 million voters headed to the polling centres in Afghanistan last Saturday, 5 April, for the first democratic election since 2001, which could lead to the first democratic transfer of power in the country's history. The unexpectedly high turnout of voters already represents a success per se, considering that widespread episodes of violence and menaces of retaliation, as well as the recent killing of German reporter Anja Niedringhaus, in the months preceding the elections threatened to discourage voters from going to polling centres.

3 April 2014

The 10-day European tour by the Chinese President Xi Jinping ended with his visit to Belgium and the headquarters of the European Union, making him the first Chinese head of state to visit the EU institutions since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two sides in 1975.

23 March 2014

On April 18, student activists and members of civic organisations (The Coalition of Student and Civic Groups against the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement) occupied the Legislative Yuan asking for a review of the controversial Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement.

21 March 2014

From 17 to 20 March 2014, EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht visited Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar in an attempt to boost trade ties with the region. High-level talks were held in each country to attain constructive progress. His trip coincided with the start of the 7th round of talks for an EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (FTA) as well as negotiations for an EU-Myanmar Investment Protection Agreement.

5 March 2014

Protests against the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra have grown stronger and more intense. The first demonstrators took to the street last year in Bangkok to send a clear message to the new government led by Ms Shinawatra, denouncing that Mr Thaksin Shinawatra, former Prime Minister who is currently in exile and accused of corruption and abuses of power, is the de-facto leader of the current caretaker government. Shinawatra refused to resign, but she called for early elections to occur on 2 February 2014.

4 March 2014

The first ASEAN-EU Dialogue on Connectivity was held last week in Brussels. Connectivty is an increasingly central goal of ASEAN, a task at which it has been effective up to a certain extent. The ASEAN Connectivity and Coordinating Committee (ACCC), set up in 2011, is tasked with coordinating and watching the effective implementation of the ASEAN Master Plan on Connectvity adopted in October 2010. ASEAN has already achieved a complex trade network that facilitates trade services and is in the process of liberalising the services sector to foreign direct investment.

25 February 2014

The Rana Plaza Donor’s Trust Fund is expected to raise USD 40 million in donations by April, 2014, exactly one year after the tragedy occurred. Already five major companies have agreed to make large donations. These include El Corte Ingles, MASCOT and Inditex, which has three subsidiaries - Zara, Loblaw and Mango.

18 February 2014

On Monday, the Commission of Inquiry (COI) on human rights in North Korea, established in 2013 by the United Nations Human Rights Council, released an almost 400-page long report containing its findings and final recommendations. The Commission, whose mandate to investigate is based on Resolution A/HRC/RES/22/13, concludes that there is overwhelming evidence that crimes against humanity have been and are being committed by hundreds of officials and authorities in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

17 February 2014

A delegation of cabinet members from Taiwan joined PRC counterparts for an official meeting on 11 February in the city of Nanjing, the first meeting between official representatives of the Beijing and Taipei governments since the Chinese civil war ended in 1949, marking an historical step towards the improvement of cross-strait relations. Mr Wang, Chairman of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, met with his PRC counterpart Mr Zhang, Head of the State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office in Nanjing.

12 February 2014

The latest events in Afghan politics are sparkling a debate on the increased deterioration of the women’s rights situation in the country. A final draft of a new law, labelled by many as anti-women, was approved last week by the Afghan Parliament and awaits the signature of President Hamid Kharzai. The law will introduce a change to the Criminal Prosecution Code with the inclusion of a section titled “Prohibition of Questioning an Individual as a Witness”.

11 February 2014

On January 24, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, joined the World Economic Forum (WEF), hosted in Davos, delivering an important message to the international community. In his speech, he announced a new phase of Chinese history marked by two main features: the planning of an extensive strategy in order to achieve crucial steps toward the solution of complicate social and economic issues and in he stressed the need to track a new path in China's international relations.

10 February 2014

After three years of suspension, delegations from North and South Korea decided, during the Red Cross talks in the border village of Panmunjom on February 5, that reunions of separated families would be made possible from February 20 to February 25 in North Korea's Mount Kumgang resort. After ignoring the South’s repeated appeals, the North has finally approved of the reunions. However, the announcement that US and South Korea will start their annual military drills on February 24 is putting the family reunions at risk.

6 February 2014

The 44th World Economic Forum (WEF) hosted in Davos, Switzerland, from January 22-25, represented an ideal venue for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to present to the international community the achievements reached during his first year back in office and present Tokyo’s foreign policy agenda.

5 February 2014

Following the EU-China summit in November 2013, the fourth EU-China High-Level Strategic Dialogue was held in Brussels on January 27. China's State Councilor Yang Jiechi visited Brussels and held a meeting with Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The dialogue highlighted strategic and security issues, including the promotion of peace and security, sustainable green growth, climate change, nuclear non-proliferation and innovation.

3 February 2014

With the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission coming to a close in 2014, serious concerns remain about the regression of women's rights and opportunities in Afghanistan. Despite the significant interest of the West in helping Afghan women achieving equal rights, it is rather timely to ask what the actual impact of Europe's efforts have had towards the achievement of women's rights, over a decade after the fall of the Taliban regime.

3 February 2014

A British citizen of Pakistani background, Muhammad Asghar, has been sentenced to death in Pakistan after being found guilty of blasphemy, claiming that he was Prophet Muhammad, a crime that is punishable with the death penalty in Pakistan. Muhammad Asghar, who had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia following a stroke in 2000, was arrested in Rawalpindi in 2010 after writing letters claiming to be the prophet. Despite his medical illness, the Rawalpindi court rejected claims that the 69-year-old had mental health problems.

27 January 2014

Last week, three health workers who were administrating polio vaccinations to children in Karachi – the biggest city in southern Pakistan – were killed by armed men on motorbikes. This is just the latest in a series of recent violent episodes against teams of health workers. In 2012 alone there were 30 attacks reported against polio teams. These violent attacks seem to be linked to Taliban militants, who see polio vaccinations as a justification for foreign espionage.

15 January 2014

The latest wave of protests has intensified in recent days as opposition leader Suthep Thaugsuban, formerly Deputy Prime Minister, called for the occupation and shutdown of government buildings in Bangkok on 13 January.