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EUVIP Workshop Successfully Conducted in Helsinki

On May 29 and 30, the first EU in the Volatile Indo-Pacific workshop was held at the Main Building of the University of Helsinki located on beautiful Senate Square. This EU Horizon-funded project was organized and led by Professor Julie Yu-Wen Chen of the Department of Cultures, and included participants from the project’s consortium including Palacky University’s Dr Alfred Gerstl, who heads the consortium, along with presenters from the University of Copenhagen and the Catholic University of Louvain, both of which are consortium partners. An overview of the speakers can be found here.

Reflecting the great range of scholarly expertise present, the first day saw presentations entailing the different notions and perceptions of European engagement with the Indo-Pacific region, and the contestation of the institutionalization of the term itself (replacing ‘Asia-Pacific’).

Beyond the maritime realm, attention was given to the various connectivity initiatives in the region, and where European and Asian countries could best find cooperation. Another aspect concerned the role domestic politics play in foreign policy continuity. In South Korea, a successor to President Yoon may reprioritize domestic interests.

On the second day, once again, the freedom of navigation featured prominently. Dedicated to the South China Sea disputes and international legal norms, the discussion centered on how to buttress the rules-based international order, and what politico-security role the EU can play within the Indo-Pacific region, in relation to both traditional and non-traditional security challenges.

Ample attention was also dedicated to the ‘Indo’ in ‘Indo-Pacific’: India. With promising economic and demographic growth projections and an institutional alignment with the West, concrete avenues for deeper Europe-India integration were discussed.

Hosted by the Finnish Institute of International Affairs (FIIA), and moderated by Dr Bart Gaens, the last panel zoomed in on China-US rivalry with particular attention to technological competition. This race to achieve tech supremacy also underpins the AUKUS trilateral security pact, a new minilateral that has emerged within the Indo-Pacific security order.









Acknowledgement: This event has been locally supported by these entities

  • Department of Cultures, University of Helsinki
  • Finnish China Law Center, University of Helsinki
  • Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Taipei Representative Office in Finland

Will Taiwan be the next Ukraine? The Ukraine War’s Implications for the Indo–Pacific

“Balance of power is the name of the game in human history, whether we like it or not.”

On May 19th, Shikata Tatsuo of the Kajima Institute of International Peace gave a lecture on the implications of the Ukraine War for the Indo-Pacific. Shikata’s focus was on the Sino-American flashpoint Taiwan and the role of Japan in case of escalation over the self-governing democratic island.

With 40 years of regional business experience under his belt, Shikata started off by underscoring the return of country risk analysis for major companies exposed to supply lines uncertainty due to the rising geopolitical temperature in the region.

He then pointed to the CCP’s shift from economic legitimacy to one of Han nationalism. China’s economy has peaked; GDP growth last year was around 3%––far off its target of 5%.

Besides the structural drivers of stagnation, among which an aging and shrinking workforce, and a (hidden) debt and real estate bubble, Xi’s agency looms large. Killing the “golden goose” Deng Xiaoping forged, Xi’s Zero-COVID policy and diplomatic corps of “Wolf Warriors” changed the perception of Chinese intentions vis-à-vis economic policy: ideology can now trump economic needs.

The agency of Xi is also apparent in China’s foreign and defense policy, with Xi demanding of the PLA to be ready for a Taiwan contingency by 2027. In addition to the gray zone tactics employed, China and Russia’s navy have circled the Japanese islands since both countries declared a “no limits” partnership.

Together with Russia’s bombing of Ukraine, this has alarmed and awakened the Japanese public to a new era. Polling numbers show a move away from the long-cherished sheltering under the US security umbrella in favor of a more proactive security posture of Japan.

Shikata mentioned a couple of concrete changes Japan’s government is likely to implement:

– The acquiring of advanced counter-strike capabilities able to reach Russia, North Korea, and China, missiles with a range of 1000 km;

– Japan will seek “integrated deterrence” with the US;

– Japan’s public is not ready to change Article 9 of the pacifist constitution, so an added clause to legitimize the Self Defence Forces could be an option;

– While Japan is not likely to come to Taiwan’s aid offensively, indirectly, it would support US operations launched from its bases in Japan;

– In case of emergency, the Japanese Prime Minister may deviate from Japan’s declared Three Non-nuclear Principles and may introduce American nuclear weapons to Japanese soil one way or another.

Shikata closed the talk by advancing a caveat to US rhetoric, calling for Japan to help the US move away from its unhelpful slogan of “democracies versus autocracies.”

The above summary reflects Shikata’s personal view only. It does not represent any institution’s view.

This public event is organized by the Helsinki team of “The EU in the Volatile Indo-Pacific Region” funded by the EU (Grant Agreement ID 1010790069)