Europe - East Asia

While Europe has long been an important economic power in the Asia Pacific, its political profile until recently has been rather weak. In recent months, however, Europe has taken important steps to strengthen its political involvement in the region, notably on the Korean Peninsula. This more active stance reflects progress in efforts to make European foreign policies more coherent and effective through a strengthening of the European Union’s “Common Foreign and Security Policy,” including the appointment of a high representative for foreign relations. Europe’s increasing influence in the Asia Pacific can also be felt economically, as Europe’s negotiations with Beijing over China’s WTO membership have made clear. Still, in keeping with its peculiar characteristics as a “composite” international actor and its rather modest self-defined role in the Asia Pacific, Europe’s political influence in the region remains that of an important subsidiary player, rather than of a great power. On the whole, Europe’s modest but gradually growing involvement has been constructive and welcome.

Daily Digest

Yonhap – Austin to attend trilateral talks with South Korean, Japanese counterparts in Singapore

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will attend a trilateral meeting with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts on the margins of an annual security forum in Singapore slated to begin next week, the Pentagon said Friday.

Reuters – Tens of thousands protest against contentious Taiwan parliament reforms

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets around Taiwan’s parliament on Friday to demonstrate against contested parliamentary reforms, in a protest also marked by anger over China’s perceived influence on the island’s democracy.

Associated Press – 2 men will go on trial for allegedly helping Hong Kong authorities gather intelligence in UK

The office manager of the Hong Kong trade office in London and another man will go on trial in February for allegedly helping Hong Kong authorities gather intelligence in the U.K. a judge said Friday.

Reuters – China stages mock missile strikes on Taiwan, jets with live missiles used in drills

China staged mock missile strikes and dispatched fighter jets carrying live missiles along with bombers on Friday, state broadcaster CCTV said, as part of exercises Beijing has said were launched to punish Taiwan’s new president, Lai Ching-te.

Associated Press – Philippines says it will forge security alliances and stage combat drills despite China’s opposition

The Philippines will continue to build security alliances and stage joint combat drills in disputed waters to defend its territorial interests, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro said Friday, dismissing China’s criticisms of such moves as paranoia.

Reuters – North Korea preparing to launch military satellite, South says

South Korea’s military said on Friday it had detected signs in North Korea of possible preparations for a satellite launch in what would be the nuclear-armed North’s effort to place a second military reconnaissance craft in orbit.