Northeast Asia

The region is characterized by China’s development from a developing country to the second largest economy in the world. North Korea’s nuclear- and armament policy and overlapping territorial claims in the South- and East China Sea are frequent sources of tensions.

The People’s Republic of China is set to combine economic power and “realpolitik” with elements of “soft power”. Keeping, respectively restoring territorial integrity to secure the Chinese modernization process and non-interference in domestic affairs are the basic principles of this policy. Since the adoption of the reform policy in 1978 a process of economic and social change has been underway in China. The results of that dynamic economic development include a widening social gap, particularly between rural and urban regions and between coastal and  landlocked provinces of the country. In addition, there are the ecological consequences of economic development, and bottlenecks in energy and water supply. The current Five-Year Plan is based on the principle of “smaller but better growth”, meaning a shift towards innovation and service industries, increase in domestic consumption, job creation, poverty reduction, and environmental protection.

The EU is China’s most important trading partner and investor, China is the second biggest trading partner of the EU (following 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 periodically. There is also a regular political exchange at various levels, including, for instance, the annual EU-China Summit. Its goal is effective cooperation between the EU and China on international and global agendas, in international fora and economic relations. 

In accordance with most states of the international community, Austria – and all EU member states – follow  a “One-China-Policy”. Austria does not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Close cooperation between Taiwan and Austria in various fields such as culture, education, science, business and consular affairs has been maintained for many years.

Since the end of the Cold War Japan is expanding its active global political commitment which is reflected by the country’s participation in international peace conferences and in UN peacekeeping operations. Political tensions with neighbouring countries (China, South Korea) arise periodically, especially over overlapping territorial claims to certain island groups, and interpretations of history. 

Diplomatic relations between Austria and Japan, established in 1869, are characterized by an intense cultural and economic exchange. Japan remains one of Austria’s most important overseas trade partners and the most important Asian market after China. The “Japan-Austria Committee for Issues of the Future” has become an integral part of Austrian-Japanese relations.

Mongolia is seeking a balanced relationship with its big neighbours China and Russia. Additionally, Mongolia has a strategic interest in intensifying relations to so-called “third neighbours” such as the US, Japan and the EU, in order to reduce its dependency on two countries only., Mongolia’s economy is dependent on exports to China and on the world market prices of its rich natural resources (coal, copper, gold, iron ore, uranium, rare earths). Due to falling world market prices and reduced Chinese demand, Mongolia is facing difficult economic challenges.

Korea’s division continues to shape the political situation on the peninsula since 1945. After the Korean War the two Koreas signed a ceasefire agreement in1953, but no peace treaty has been concluded.

After the death of Kim Jong-il in 2011, his son Kim Jong-un became the new leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, North Korea). Since then, there have been neither significant changes in North Korea’s positions, nor substantial economic and political reforms. The human rights situation continues to be extremely alarming. North Korea has conducted numerous nuclear tests. North Korea’s nuclear and missile programme is regarded as unacceptable by the international community imposing sanctions on UN level which have been supplemented by autonomous EU sanctions.

Since the Korean War, the Republic of Korea (RoK, South Korea) has undergone a remarkable development into an important economic and trade power. South Korea’s foreign policy is strongly dominated by regional security issues, its position towards North Korea, economic interests, and (with regard to Japan) by interpretations of history. The strategic partnership with the US is a central element of South Korea’s foreign policy, while China is its most important trade and investment partner. Since 2010, South Korea is a strategic partner of the EU. A free trade agreement became effective in 2011, the first FTA of the EU with an Asian country. The EU is South Korea’s second most important trading partner (after China) and its largest investor.