Distant Partners: Europe and the South China Sea
Europe and the countries adjacent to the South China Sea (SCS) share a long and very contradictory history. European powers colonized most of the countries in South-East Asia, but the fighters against colonialism also relied on European ideas and ideologies like nationalism and socialism. Until today, the conflict parties in the SCS base their claims on legal norms and concepts developed in Europe during the era of colonialism. Though the European Union is one of the biggest trade partners and investors in the SCS area, Brussels did not work out a convincing political strategy accompanying and protecting its economic interests. In 2012 the EU started some initiatives for a stronger political engagement in this part of the world, but these initiatives were not consolidated and elaborated in the years to follow. Nevertheless, Europe could offer a lot of—positive and negative—experiences in common management of resources, in coping with an asymmetric conflict constellation etc., which might be helpful to find a solution for the conflicts in SCS. To put these experiences into effect an intensive and sustainable political dialogue is needed which may lead to a partnership between the two regions based on equal footing and mutual benefit.
KeywordsEuropean Union EU-Asia relations EU-ASEM Dialog
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