The 21st century is frequently called the “Asian century” as the political and economic focus shifts to the Asian-Pacific Region.
East and South-East Asia rank among the most dynamic regions in terms of their economic development. Most of the countries in the region, above all China, are experiencing considerable economic growth. Several Asian countries have emerged even stronger from the economic and financial crisis. Alongside Japan, China in particular has developed into a regional hub and a global player. India has extended its dominant economic role in South Asia.
The further development of the ASEAN integration process is a central issue in South Asia. Much attention is paid to the plans for establishing an East Asian Community. Economic links and integration within ASEAN, but also between ASEAN and China, Japan and South Korea, are constantly increasing.
Demographically Asia becomes more important: Approximately 60% of the world population lives in Asia, mostly in China and India. Many of the world’s biggest cities and metropolitan areas are situated in Asia, for example Tokyo, Delhi, Shanghai, Mumbai, Dhaka and Beijing.
The region continues to be an area of numerous political crises and unresolved ethnic and social conflicts. Against this background efforts aimed at intensifying political cooperation in the region are of substantial importance.
Austria and the EU are engaged in the region in many fields. The EU has established “strategic partnerships” with China, India, Japan and the Republic of Korea and holds regular high-level meetings.Europe and Asia also come together in the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), which is an informal process of dialogue and cooperation bringing together the 28 EU member states, Norway, Switzerland and 21 Asian countries and the ASEAN Secretariat. The ASEM dialogue addresses political, economic and cultural issues (see ASEM Infoboard).