The 21st century is frequently projected to be the “Asian century” as political and economic clout is shifting towards the Asian-Pacific Region.
East and Southeast Asia rank among the most dynamic regions in terms of economic development. Most countries in the region 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. China’s Silk Road Initiative “One Belt – One Road” (OBOR) encourages connectivity in the region and beyond. China further initiated the establishment of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) which became operational in 2016. Austria is a founding member of the AIIB. In South Asia India has extended its dominant economic role.
The further development of the ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) integration process is a central issue in Southeast Asia. Economic ties and integration within ASEAN and between ASEAN and China, Japan and South Korea, are gradually increasing.
In terms of demography Asia becomes more important globally: 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, Mumbai, Karachi, Seoul, Shanghai, Beijing and Jakarta.
The region continues to be an area of numerous political crises and unresolved ethnic and social conflicts. Therefore, intensifying political cooperation in the region is 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 framework of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), an informal process of dialogue and cooperation bringing together the EU, 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).