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Asia and the World
While SIIA focuses on Singapore and the ASEAN grouping, relations with traditional partners in the West and other Asian countries beyond ASEAN are critical as well. The SIIA has conducted research into trade agreements and other regional links with the North East Asian economies, such as China, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea. The SIIA also monitors multilateral and bilateral relations with Western states like the United States and European Union members, while also conducting analysis on new partners that Asian countries are increasingly building ties with, such as Russia, or states in Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.
The economic slowdown in Europe following the sovereign debt crisis of 2011 has changed the dynamic of relations between Asia and Europe. But while much mainstream attention has focused on the Eurozone’s woes, 2011 also saw the coming into force of the European Union-South Korea Free Trade Agreement, while negotiations for the EU-Singapore FTA are expected to be concluded by the end of 2012. Despite talk of Europe becoming irrelevant to the global economy, a considerable interdependence remains, and Asians stand to lose due to slow growth in Europe. Active Asian engagement with Europe and participation in the relevant international forums is thus critical.

Amid this period of change, the SIIA has been following Asia-Europe relations in our analysis, commentary and events, participating in dialogue over the prospects for continued long term cooperation. With ASEAN countries embarking on their own regional institution-building and regional economic integration, it is crucial that Asians learn from the European Union's experience in this area. As Asian countries seek to engage in a greater way with global institutions, European examples of policy and diplomacy could prove informative to Asian leaders.
With China’s rapid economic growth and rising regional influence, relations with the country have become increasingly crucial to Singapore and the region. ASEAN and China established a Free Trade Area in 2010, and China-ASEAN trade and investment continue to grow. Amidst pessimism on the global economy, China’s trade and financial relations with ASEAN and other Asian countries will continue to play a critical role in the economic well-being of the region.

However, many within the region have mounting concerns over Beijing’s push towards military expansion and modernisation, as well as its increasingly assertive stance over territorial disputes that have caused tensions in China’s relations with some Asian countries. Potential clashes between the US and China also weigh heavily in the minds of policy-makers across the region, given the renewed American focus towards Asia.

The SIIA’s research looks at politics within China, while also exploring engagement between China, the US, and ASEAN. Topics range from economic cooperation to China’s participation in regional dialogue mechanisms, including discussions on disputed territories. The SIIA provides timely analyses of China to our members, as well as those within the general public interested in this rapidly-changing country.
The US-China relationship may be the most watched in the region, but US ties with other Asian states have seen significant developments in recent years. Following the 1997 Asian financial crisis, Asian countries focused on growing their own regionalism, building ties on an intra-Asian basis, but largely excluding the United States. This distance between the US and Asia grew during the years of the George W. Bush presidency, when it was perceived that minimal attention was given to the region beyond “hot spots” such as the Korean Peninsula and the global war on terrorism.

However, in 2011, the Obama Administration launched an effort to renew and deepen engagement between the United States and Asia. In 2011, President Barack Obama attended the East Asian Summit hosted by ASEAN, the first time the US had attended the meeting as a full participant, and the US hosted the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings in the same year. 2012 saw the US easing sanctions on Myanmar and naming an ambassador to the country, in acknowledgement of the country's reforms.

However, the capacity of the US to engage Asia and the political will for such engagement should not be taken for granted. The SIIA focuses on tracking US foreign policy towards Asia in the key areas of diplomacy, defence ties and economic relations. Our research and events aim to offer insights and policy-relevant observations to deepen US-Asian engagement on a bilateral and multilateral basis.
Related Links
• Sep 19 2012
   China, Japan, US: Protests continue amid US Defence Secretary's Beijing visit; US and China file trade complaints
• SIIA Atrium Festival: The Future of Chinese Politics
• Oct 09 2012
   SIIA Atrium Festival: US Elections & Asia

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