Interregional Linkages in a Changing Global System
Edited by Peter W. Preston and Julie Gilson
Chapter 5: The unfolding Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) process
1 Paul Lim2 INTRODUCTION: ASEM IN CONTEXT European Union-Asia relations have been characterized by bilateral relations with selected countries of Asia, particularly with the North-East Asian and South Asian countries, and with the members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). With South East Asia, it has been a blocto-bloc relationship grounded in the EEC-ASEAN Cooperation Agreement of 1980. The EU had little relationship with the Indo-Chinese states until recent years, culminating with bilateral agreements with them. There was a limited and low key relationship with Burma but, in response to the student demonstrations of March to August 1988 and the May 1990 elections, Burma became an issue in relationships between the EU and ASEAN. In July 1994, Europe-Asia relations got a boost when the European Commission produced its Communication entitled, ‘Towards a New Asia Strategy’ (TNAS).3 This was followed by the Prime Minister of Singapore proposing a meeting of European and Asian leaders to his French counterpart; a proposal that was accepted. Prime Minister Goh spoke of the missing link in the triangular relationship between Asia, the USA and the EU. ASEM was endorsed and adopted by ASEAN. Consequently, the first ASEM was held in Bangkok in 1996, the second in London in April 1998, and the third in October 2000 in Seoul, Korea. Some say ASEM was, in a way, a consolation prize to the EU, which had been excluded from the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). The EU felt isolated by APEC. ASEM gave...
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