The Region is characterized by China’s development from a developing country to one of the biggest national economies worldwide, the political division of the Korean Peninsula and the cross-strait relations between China and Taiwan.
Since the adoption of the Chinese “open-door” policy a process of economic and social change has been underway in the People’s Republic of China. China’s accession to the WTO (World Trade Organization) in December 2001 has created additional pressure to adapt since China is obliged to respect WTO standards. The results of that dynamic economic development include a widening social gap, particularly between rural and urban citizens and between those living in the coastal areas and the interior of the country. Added to that there are the ecological consequences of economic development, a lack of water, and bottlenecks with respect to energy supply. Thus balanced development was identified as a new political goal.
The EU is China’s most important trade partner and investor, China itself is second biggest trade partner for the EU (second only to the US). The Strategic Partnership between the EU and China was initiated in 2003, taking account of China’s growing importance. Since 1994, the EU-China human rights dialogue has been held on a semi-annual basis. There is also a regular political exchange of views at various levels, including, for instance, the annual EU-China Summit. Cooperation between the EU and China also extends to environmental and energy issues, among others. In 2011, 40 years of diplomatic relations between Austria and China were celebrated with numerous cultural events in both countries. Highlight of the anniversary year was the state visit by President HU Jintao (30.10. – 2.11.2011) in Austria.
In accordance with most states of the international community, Austria – and all EU member states – pursues a “One-China-Policy”. Austria does not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan nor any diplomatic representation. However, for many years there has been a close cooperation between Taiwan and Austria, well-functioning and friendly relations in various fields such as culture, education, science, business and consular affairs. The Austrian Bureau in Taipei plays a central role in cultivating good relations.
Since the end of the Cold War Japan has been undertaking efforts aimed at global political commitment which is reflected in the country’s active participation in international peace conferences and in UN peacekeeping operations. Japan’s wish for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council has not yet been realised. Japan has also been playing a very active role in the United Nations. Participation in regional cooperation mechanisms in Asia is also becoming an increasingly important feature of Japan’s foreign policy as well as the improvement of bilateral relations to its neighbours (China, South Korea).
As reaction to the current financial and economic crisis a new economic stimulus package, worth 920 billion Yen, as well as a growth strategy were introduced. Because of the (natural) disasters in March 2011 (earthquake, tsunami, nuclear incident) the economic situation is still tight.
Die diplomatic relations between Austria and Japan are characterized by an intense cultural and economic exchange. Japan remains one of Austria’s most important trade partner and the most important Asian market after China. 30 city partnerships and approximately 20 Japan-Austria societies contribute to the strong bilateral relationship.
The IMF predicts one of the biggest growth rates worldwide for Mongolia. Currently on a relatively low level, the natural resources of the country promise a better prospect. The “Human Development Fund”, established in 2009, serves to distribute wealth fairly.
An Austrian economic mission acknowledged the country’s potential for Austrian investors. A Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between Mongolia and the EU has been negotiated. Mongolia has made significant steps towards democracy and human rights in recent years, therefore applies for membership to the OSCE.
The nuclear programme pursued by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, North Korea) puts a strain on the relationship between the two Koreas. The nuclear programme is regarded as unacceptable by the international community who imposed sanctions through the UN. No peace treaty has been negotiated between the two Koreas since 1953 (current status: ceasefire). The so-called six-party talks (SPT) should help resolve the conflict but are currently being discontinued.
Since the Korean War, the Republic of Korea (RoK, South Korea) has developed into an important economic power. In November 2010 it was the last Asian host for a G20 summit.
2010 marked a record high of Austrian exports to South Korea (711.7 million €). Korea therefore is Austria’s the third biggest market and trade partner after China and Japan. On October 6, 2010 a free trade agreement between South Korea and the EU has been signed – the first FTA with any Asian country.