Patron: Her Excellency The Right Honourable Dame Patsy Reddy, GNZM, QSO, Governor-General of New Zealand

Geopolitical Geometry – In this changing world, how do countries shape themselves around Asia?

Anita Perkins

This year has brought with it seismic change, shifting geopolitical tectonic plates. For the first time in decades, world powers consider significant new alliances without the US setting the agenda. For example, with regard to trade negotiations, Japan somewhat unexpectedly changes tack to forge the path for a US-less TPP. In this Trumpian age of nationalism and wall-building Obama’s Asia pivot seems to have been rendered obsolete.

In Europe, the UK is negotiating a hard or soft Brexit while in France, a move toward (rather than away from) European integration is on the cards with the recent election of President Macron. Electoral candidates and voters for 2017 elections in the UK, Germany and New Zealand will all need to navigate these issues and where we sit in relation to others in an unprecedentedly dynamic age of foreign relations.

In order to carve out a way forward, and try to predict the future shape of our rapidly changing geopolitics let’s first stop and look back. We need not look far, just a few months, in order to observe history changing quickly.

Here are some media stories from the year so far. These articles represent a number of different viewpoints on shifting political relationships. In particular, these stories, from January to May 2017, paint a picture of how different nations are aligning or realigning their relationships with Asian countries.

21 January, 2017

The Diplomat: The Pivot to Asia Was Obama’s Biggest Mistake

By John Ford for The Diplomat

http://thediplomat.com/2017/01/the-pivot-to-asia-was-obamas-biggest-mistake/

“The pivot failed to achieve key goals in Asia while inattention made matters worse in Europe and the Middle East.”

20 April, 2017

European Union External Action: Europe and Asia – building a Cooperative Global Order

Speech by the HR/VP Federica Mogherini at Tsinghua University

https://eeas.europa.eu/headquarters/headquarters-homepage/24859/europe-and-asia-building-cooperative-global-order-speech-hrvp-federica-mogherini-tsinghua_en

“The first idea is the need for all of us, and particularly for global powers like the European Union and China, to engage: to engage constructively in world affairs. The second, is the need to look for win-win solutions. And the third, is the importance of rules, and of building a rules-based global order.”

23 April, 2017

Financial Times: Japan seeks to bring Pacific trade deal back from the dead

By Robin Harding

https://www.ft.com/content/3ccdf200-2658-11e7-8691-d5f7e0cd0a16

“Policy U-turn for Tokyo in plan to relaunch TPP without Trump’s America”

5 May 2017

Express: China’s new Silk Road initiative linking Asia, Africa and Europe hampered by security fear

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/800619/china-silk-road-asia-africa-europe-economy-global-security

“CHINA’S ambitious initiative to generate economic prosperity by building a new Silk Road will depend on the countries involved ensuring strong security, the country’s top policemen said, ahead of a summit to discuss President Xi Jinping’s pet project.”

6 May, 2017

Asia Times: Why the EU must engage with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)

By Silvia Menegazzi

http://www.atimes.com/article/eu-must-engage-aiib/

“Both the European Union and its member states must not underestimate the economic and financial benefits that may come from closer relations with China”