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EIAS Newsletter

July 2020

Now that July has arrived and Brussels is slowly moving into summer recess mode after the past months of COVID-19 confinement and recovery, the EIAS Team is delighted to present you its July Newsletter filled with recent research and publications to provide you with a solid list of reading materials to get you through the summer. 

EIAS will continue its research and activities during the summer months and looks forward to providing you with the outcome of our research projects after summer and to (hopefully) welcome you again in September. 

Wishing you a wonderful summer and a happy reading,


The EIAS Team

 
 

NEWS

EIAS AND UZBEKISTAN'S INSTITUTE FOR STRATEGIC AND REGIONAL STUDIES HOLD VIDEOCONFERENCE

On 3 July, a videoconference was held between the European Institute for Asian Studies and the Institute for Strategic and Regional Studies (ISRS) of Uzbekistan on “Prospects and opportunities for enhancing cooperation between the European Union and Central Asian countries: The role of Uzbekistan in the implementation of the European Strategy in the region". During the videoconference, EIAS and ISRS exchanged views on numerous topics, including post-COVID-19 pandemic socio-economic recovery, the New EU Central Asia Strategy, economic cooperation between the EU and Uzbekistan, the Uzbek accession process to the WTO, GSP+ status and potential sectoral agreements between the EU and Uzbekistan. 
 
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EU-CHINA ROUND TABLE - STRATEGIC OUTLOOK ON THE OCCASION OF THE 45th ANNIVERSARY OF EU-CHINA DIPLOMATIC TIES
 
On 19 June 2020, EIAS Programme Director Lin Goethals participated as a speaker in the online EU-China Round Table "Strategic Outlook on the Occasion of the 45th Anniversary of EU-China Diplomatic Ties: How to Strengthen International Cooperation in Times of Global Crisis". The discussion was organised by the Europe China One Belt One Road Culture & Tourism Development Committee (OBOR) and hosted by the Centre for European Studies of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sceinces, and the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS). The Round Table took place only a few days before the EU-China Summit and discussed a number of pressing issues in EU-China relations. This included post-pandemic bilateral Sino-European cooperation, obstacles and opportunities, as well as how the EU should take on a more pragmatic and realistic approach towards China adapted to the changing nature of its economic model, addressing the EU's internal division in how to approach China, while moving beyond the current polarisation in the debate on EU-China relations.    
DISCUSSION ON THE FIRST YEAR OF KASSYM-JOMART TOKAYEV'S PRESIDENCY

 

On 11 June 2020, EIAS Programme Director Alberto Turkstra was invited to participate as a speaker to the round table entitled "The first year of the presidency of Kassym-Jomart Tokayev: reforms and public trust", a video conference organized at the initiative of the Embassy of Kazakhstan in Belgium. 

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PUBLICATIONS

HONG KONG 2.0 - NATIONAL SECURITY LAW
 
For Hong Kong as a prime interconnected financial hub, the enactment of the national security law in Hong is leading to ever-changing political uncertainties. From legal promises in the Hong Kong Basic Law, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has increasingly become apparent in Hong Kong’s Special Administrative Region (SAR). Gaining ground in the media, the national security law may seem like a novel concept, but this has been a persistent endeavour since the 1990s that has finally come to an end amid the pandemic. Hong Kong has conceded the heavyweight title that it once held as global international finance centre. Chinese cities nearby in the interlocked Pearl River Delta are cropping up progressively, bringing in notable investment in developed industries such as technology, finance and manufacturing.

The national security law has also garnered attention internationally. The US is taking an assertive approach, using Hong Kong as a proxy in the US-China trade war. The UK on the other hand has offered UK citizenship to 2.9 million Hong Kongers with British National Overseas (BNO) passports. In retaliation to the national security law the EU is faced with difficult task in balancing its business interests and making a strong stance vis-à-vis their fluctuating relationship with China. The EU must look at Hong Kong through a larger regional lens to implement appropriate tactics as this brisk implementation has reset Hong Kong’s reality.

 
Written by Zahra Beg, Junior Researcher
Published on 14 July 2020 
 
Download Policy Brief
VIET NAM-EU HEALTH COOPERATION: FOSTERING A COLLABORATIVE PARTNERSHIP FOR EQUITABLE PHARMACEUTICAL ACCESS
 

In the context of intensified EU-Viet Nam relations, health represents an area in which enhanced bilateral cooperation could be bolstered. Partnering towards equitable pharmaceutical access in particular is a domain with high potential for achieving shared gains. These papers call for a collaborative partnership between institutions and stakeholders from the pharmaceutical sector, with the aim of guaranteeing equitable access to medicines to the Vietnamese people. 

The papers present in-depth research on the state of Vietnam’s healthcare system, pharmaceutical industry and market, together with the role played by the EU and European pharmaceutical companies as Viet Nam’s partners for healthcare strengthening and expanded pharmaceutical access. In light of this research, recommendations are provided to the Vietnamese Government, the EU, Vietnamese and European pharmaceutical companies active in Viet Nam to jointly attain sustainable solutions to strengthen the healthcare system, and to improve availability, affordability and quality of medicines in the country – three pillars considered essential to achieve equitable access to medical drugs.

Written by Sara Bertucci, Associate Researcher
Published on 23 June 2020 
 
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Download Briefing Paper
PERSPECTIVES ON AN EU DIALOGUE WITH CHINA ON DIGITALIZATION
 

Establishing a Digital dialogue between the EU and China will be essential for global recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and sustained economic growth for the next decade. EU digital strategies have steadily evolved since 2015, including the recently approved EU Recovery Plan that emphasises a digital and green recovery of the EU economy. There is now a concrete opportunity for both the EU and China to maintain a bilateral, digital dialogue to improve Sino-European relations and de-escalate ongoing tensions.
 

Written by Andrea Mogni, EIAS Senior Associate
and Axel Goethals, CEO EIAS

Published on 17 July 2020 
 
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THE 5G MOMENT OF TRUTH IN EUROPE: GEOPOLITICAL IMPLICATIONS, ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES AND CYBERSECURITY CONCERNS

 

5G is the latest generation of wireless technology. Even more than its predecessors, it is supposed to bring tremendous benefits for both enterprises and consumers. However, 5G has also started to be perceived as critical infrastructure and has therefore become one of the biggest fields of competition among global powers today. With a focus primarily on the EU and its relations with China, this paper aims to better understand the core stakes in the 5G debate as well as key takeaways including that the EU takes the lead together with China in the 5G standardization agenda; that the EU should carve a middle way by strengthening its economic ties and cooperation with China, without harming its historical transatlantic ties; and that the EU must develop a common and coordinated approach to avoid backlogs, partly fuelled by unscientific populist agendas.

Written by Luca Tarantino, Junior Researcher
Published on 14 July 2020 
 
Download Policy Brief
 

OP-EDS

A BALANCING ACT: THE EU AMIDST US-CHINA 5G DECOUPLING
 

On May 15, 2019, US President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order effectively banning transactions with companies “owned by, controlled by, or subject to the jurisdiction or direction of a foreign adversary”, a barely disguised reference to Chinese telecommunication giants like Huawei and ZTE. To mitigate the repercussions of the rift, the US administration later issued certificates to certain American firms, allowing them to continue collaborating with targeted corporations and their subsidiaries temporarily.

Although previously avoiding comment on the issue, the Chinese government has now become more active and declared that it will take necessary countermeasures. The decoupling of the US and Chinese telecommunications sectors is thus very much under way.

 

Written by EIAS Junior Researcher Stefan Munk
Published on 16 July 2020

Read More
ARCTIC SHIPPING, MORE THAN A RUSSIAN ASPIRATION?
 
In June 2020, a new all-time high-temperature record in the Arctic was set, which reopens the debate on the importance of fighting climate change on one hand and navigating commercial Arctic shipping routes and raw materials extraction in the area on the other hand. Logistical opportunities offered by the thawing land derive from the rising temperatures, while the shrinking frozen zones improve the accessibility of the Arctic shipping routes, and possibly, even the accessibility of its resources. Intensifying commercial shipping through international Arctic waters and Russia’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) may be within easier reach than initially thought. The Arctic should unambiguously be considered as an upcoming centre of international freighting development and strategic geo-economic interests, instead of a flagship of cold isolation.
 

Written by EIAS Junior Researcher Daan de Kruijf
Published on 15 July 2020

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ASSESSING THE EU-CHINA RELATIONSHIP IN CYBERSPACE
 
On 22 June 2020, the EU-China Summit took place via video conference, representing an important opportunity to reinforce the bilateral relationship between Brussels and Beijing amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. In “EU-China – A Strategic Outlook”, the EU considers China as “an economic competitor in the pursuit of technological leadership”, next to being a negotiating partner and systemic rival. 

The summit was a fundamental moment to highlight the EU position on new digital technologies, data protection and cybersecurity. In order to boost its responsiveness and resilience towards cyber challenges impacting the stability of the single digital market and the democratic order, the European Union is continuously strengthening its cybersecurity rules and mechanisms.
 

Written by EIAS Associated Researcher Federica Russo
Published on 15 July 2020

Read More
EU-CHINA SUMMIT: SEARCHING FOR BRIDGES TO BUILD

One Summit, Two Statements

On 22 June 2020, the new European leadership, President of the Council Charles Michel and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, accompanied by High Representative Josep Borrell, held a virtual EU-China Summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Keqiang – a yearly venue, albeit usually held in-person. Marking 45 years of EU-China diplomatic ties, 2020 was set to be a milestone for the partnership.

Written by EIAS Programme Director Lin Goethals and EIAS Junior Researcher Stefan Munk
Published on 7 July 2020

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TOWARDS AN EU-CHINA DIGITAL DIALOGUE: THE NEED FOR CONSTRUCTIVE BALANCE BETWEEN A SYNERGETIC RELATIONSHIP AND COMPETITION

 

Digital connectivity, digital economy, and cybersecurity have become quite important and sensitive matters in the framework of EU dialogue and bilateral engagement between EU and China. A bilateral dialogue started in 2009, focusing on Information Technology, Telecommunications, and the use of the Internet. In 2013, a new “EU-China 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation” was agreed and, in this context, the initial focus was put on the Internet and the information society. This policy agenda was progressively expanded in both scope and specialization. In 2015, a Joint Declaration on strategic cooperation on 5G mobile networks was signed in Beijing, in the framework of the EU-China High-Level Economic and Trade Dialogue. On that occasion, Commissioner Günther Oettinger stated: “5G will be the backbone of our digital economies and societies worldwide. This is why we strongly support and seek a global consensus and cooperation on 5G. With today’s signature with China, the EU has now teamed up with the most important Asian partners in a global race to make 5G a reality by 2020. It is a crucial step in making 5G a success.”


Written by EIAS CEO Axel Goethals
Published on 1 July 2020

Read More
VIETNAM AS A STEPPING STONE FOR EU-ASEAN TRADE


Following the Viet Nam-EU Partnership and Cooperation Framework Agreement (PCA), the EU-Viet Nam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and EU-Viet Nam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA) were concluded by the European Council on 30 March 2020. The EU and Viet Nam signed these agreements on 30 June 2019, after which the Vietnamese National Assembly (Quốc hội Việt Nam) gave its approval of both on 8 June 2020, and the European Parliament on 12 February 2020. Both agreements are yet to be ratified by the EU Member States. The agreements are expected to enter into force on 1 August 2020. After Singapore, Viet Nam is the second country among the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) members to seal off such agreements with the EU. 


Written by EIAS Junior Researcher Daan de Kruijf
Published on 30 June 2020

Read More
DOES THE PANDEMIC OPEN THE EU'S DOORS FOR CHINESE FDI? 

While the intensity of pandemic-related health cases in the EU seems to be in retreat, relaxation of social restrictions throughout the EU Member States seems to have established a foothold. In an economic context, however, the virus is mostly yet to hit. The national economic governing bodies of the EU Member States are working hard to limit the negative impacts of the economic setback where possible. Private enterprises make up for a fundamental part of the EU Single Market’s nature, and many of them have been hit hard. Considering governmental support to be far from available for every affected company in the EU, and particularly SMEs, while the pandemic’s aftermath has negatively affected several sectors of business financially, a systematic weakening of European companies is inevitable.


Written by EIAS Junior Researcher Daan de Kruijf
Published on 23 June 2020

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TOURISM AND COVID-19: THE CASE OF MACAU

The world is facing an unprecedented health and economic crisis, and tourism is one of the worst affected sectors globally. According to the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), international tourism fell by 22% in the first quarter of 2020 and this decline could extend to 80% throughout the year. This plunge is not a direct effect of the pandemic but rather of the subsequent widespread introduction of travel restrictions and closure of airports and national borders. As the number of daily new cases is slowly starting to stabilize, many economies, particularly those heavily reliant on tourism, are searching for strategies to re-open their countries and accelerate economic recovery without risking a new outbreak. In their quest for appropriate solutions, governments could look towards Macau for guidance and inspiration.
 
Written by EIAS Junior Researcher Bárbara Teixeira de Sousa Sénécaut
Published on 19 June 2020
Read More
TURKMENISTAN: CELEBRATING 25 YEARS OF NEUTRALITY

In December 1995, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously endorsed Turkmenistan’s unique status of neutrality. Thenceforward the status has defined and guided its foreign policy, broadly characterised by the principles of non-interference and non-participation in any military associations and alliances. Celebrating the 25th anniversary of such an occasion, this article considers the origins, evolution and future of the concept of neutrality in steering Turkmenistan’s foreign policy.

Written by EIAS Programme Director Alberto Turkstra 
Published on 17 June 2020
Read More
REMARKS ON PRESIDENT TOKAYEV'S FIRST ANNIVERSARY AS PRESIDENT OF KAZAKHSTAN
 
One year into President Tokayev’s Presidency, we can already observe some of the recurring themes that are defining his Presidency in the major policy speeches he has delivered. These include a commitment to political reform, a listening state, civic engagement, enhanced state-society dialogue, building trust, economic diversification and investing in human capital. The key takeaway is the realisation that political transformation is also critical to advance the country’s socio-economic development and modernisation.

Written by EIAS Programme Director Alberto Turkstra 
Published on 16 June 2020
Read More
A GREEN SINO-EUROPEAN FOCUS IN THE AFTERMATH OF COVID-19
 
The overall emphasis on overcoming the virus and continuing the economic governance as before the pandemic has shifted the priority of debating climate change to fighting Covid-19. Whether or not global climate remedies will be shuffled under the carpet due to the pandemic is a valid question to ask at this point, as 2020 had been declared to be the year that should have been all about climate, with countries due to return to the negotiating table to discuss new carbon-cutting targets.

Written by EIAS Junior Researcher Daan de Kruijf
Published on 10 June 2020
Read More
UZBEKISTAN'S ECONOMIC RESILIENCE IN THE FACE OF COVID-19
 
Uzbekistan went into the COVID-19 crisis with a rather balanced economy, a diversified export basket and relatively evenly distributed trading partners, with China accounting only for 14 percent of its exports. It is also less reliant on commodity exports compared to other countries in the region. Furthermore, having started major economic reforms only three years ago, Uzbekistan is still relatively un-integrated in complex global value and supply chains. Thereby, its supply chains are self-contained and largely self-sufficient. Thanks to fiscal buffers in place and access to financing from International Financial Institutions (IFIs), Uzbekistan has the flexibility needed to respond to the crisis and mitigate the short-term risks, having built strong buffers against external shocks.

Written by EIAS Junior Researcher Matthew Neapole and EIAS Programme Director Alberto Turkstra
Published on 9 June 2020
 
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IS THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION CONTRADICTING ITS OWN PRINCIPLES IN THE NEW ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING LIST?
 

Why does this year’s list of high-risk third countries include mainly small and developing states with much less lobbying capacity or political leverage vis-à-vis the European Union? Are there any hidden intentions and agendas in doing so for this year’s version, as last year, the list was turned down by the European Council?

And why would the European Commission release this list in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic without applying the standard procedure of consultations or discussions with the new countries identified? Especially when those countries are devoting all available resources to fight the health, economic and social impacts of the pandemic? 


Written by EIAS CEO Axel Goethals
Published on 8 June 2020
 
Read More
RHETORIC vs REALITY: SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONES (SEZs) UNDER THE CHINA-PAKISTAN ECONOMIC CORRIDOR (CPEC)

The China-Pakistan relationship is described as “higher than the Himalayas, sweeter than honey and stronger than steel”. Both sides trumpet CPEC (the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) which is arguably the crown jewel of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Behind the rhetoric of “win-win” cooperation, a sober analysis shows that this gargantuan task comes with a heavy political, social and economic price tag.

CPEC boasts the construction of nine official Special Economic Zones (SEZs), as well as one Free Economic Zone, Gwadar port. China is zealous to replicate and export its economically successful SEZs model around the world. Banking on maritime trade transforming struggling economies, Gwadar – as a multimodal transport hub – is CPEC’s most prized flagship. Despite losing momentum, exacerbated by COVID-19, both countries announced that CPEC would pick up the pace in March. China cannot leave its “all-weather friend” behind nor allow this important BRI example for the world to stumble and fall. 


Written by EIAS Junior Researcher Zahra Beg
Published on 3 June 2020
 
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MEETING IN THE MIDDLE: THE EU AND JAPAN IN CENTRAL ASIA 

In the fall of 2019, the EU-Japan Partnership on Sustainable Connectivity and Quality Infrastructure was signed, building on the already existing agreements between the two countries: the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA), and the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). The EJCP signals a push for greater cooperation between the two actors. One thus far understudied region, where collaboration could converge, would be in Central Asia, where the EU should explore potential synergies with Japan. Working together with “like-minded and other relevant partners to develop mutual understanding and cooperation in areas where interests converge” is advocated for in the 2019 EU Strategy for Central Asia, and talks have already taken place with Japan – it may be time to put this into practice, firmly consolidating their intents.


Written by EIAS Junior Researcher Matthew Neapole
Published on 21 May 2020
 
Read More
 

PAST EVENTS

HONG KONG'S FUTURE AND IMPLICATIONS FOR THE EU AND CROSS-STRAIT RELATIONS 
 
On 16 June 2020, EIAS hosted an online discussion about Hong Kong’s trade and economic prospects post-COVID-19, with a focus on EU-Hong Kong and Cross-Strait relations. The webcast was chaired by Mr Erik FAMAEY, Senior Associate at EIAS. Speakers were Dr Harry TSENG, Representative, of the Taipei Representative Office to the EU and Belgium, Dr Kerry BROWN, Professor at King’s College London and Dr I-Chung LAI, President of the Prospect Foundation. The discussion and Q&A session were moderated by Mr Stuart LAU, Europe Correspondent of the South China Morning Post. 
 
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