“Asia is the heart of the world”, affirmed Jose Maria Chiquillo, the moderator for the first-round table and the President of the International Network for the Silk Road UNESCO Programme, during the seminar held by the European University. “The future of Asian European Relations” was held in the European Parliament, Castellana de Madrid on 20 February with an attendance of around 150 people.
After listening to the reflections of the speakers regarding the role of Spanish businesses in Asia, about security in the region, and the increasing importance of international relations on the continent, the doubts had by the Popular Party are not without merit. Despite this, one of the conclusions of the seminar was that Spanish investment in Asia is still has a way to go, and that the possibility of growth and cultural understanding should be intensified. The new Silk Road and the Asia-European Meeting organisation, both represented in the seminar, are initiatives of great interest.
“Ultimately this is a seminar that deals with three perspectives or three issues that we consider essential for the current understanding of Asian life and above all the connection with Europe,” said organizer Julia Pulido, Professor of International Relations and Security at the European University of Madrid in an effort to explain the objectives that the International Forum hoped to discuss.
At 10am Inaugural session began which was attended by Irene Blázquez, Head of the Office for National Security Policy and strategist for the Department of National Security for the Cabinet of the Presidency. Ms. Blazquez opened up with some insight to the talks prepared for the day ahead. She made statements about the Silk Road, a network of trade routes that connected Asia and Europe from the 1st century BC for the Chinese silk business.
At 10:30 the first Round Table was held with the moderator José María Chiquillo, the Ambassador of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Ngo Bien Dung; the Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia Hermono Hermono, and María Aparicio González, Deputy Director General of Commercial Policy for Asia, Europe and Oceania of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism. During this talk the discussion was “The Future of the ASEM process”. Chiquillo started the table by affirming that in the 15th century the first inkling of globalisation occurred. Fruit was traded between East and West, through the Maritime Route of the Silk, which Spain was a member of.
The Silk Road is a network of commercial routes that has connected Asia and Europe since the first century B.C, and it has recently been recovered through a program founded by UNESCO in 1988 to promote dialogue, diversity and social, economic development and a new cultural in the towns where the Silk Road previously resided. The creation of this new Silk Road is very ambitious project and fundamental for the future in which issues such as poverty, climate change management and the future of our society.
In March 1996 ASEM was established, a mechanism of Asian-European political dialogue that aims to create an alliance between the two continents. The ambassadors of the Republics of Vietnam and Indonesia spoke about the current and future roles of their countries in this dialogue forum. The future of the economic hierarchy was discussed from the perspective of the speakers. The Indonesian ambassador said that in 2050 China will be the first economy in the world, India the second, the United States the third, Indonesia the fourth and Brazil the fifth.
In the last statements made, Aparici gave her opinion on the key points of the discussions. She explained that, “Most of the funding for the Silk Road was provided by Chinese and Asian banks, not Spanish or European. Any security strategies should be guided by values, rules, and the framework of the European Union”. She also praised the national security, claiming that Spain can be used as a guideline for the rest of Europe, “Spain has security reference models, we have anti-terrorist modes and illegal immigration control material.”
The first round table was named “The Future of ASEM Process” whose main objective is to promote the connectivity of shared and common values among its people, through continuing with the promotion of human rights and democracy, the promotion of tolerance and moderation among the people and respect for pluralism through inter-religious dialogue. The speakers also spoke of the importance of including young people in new initiatives.
The second round table was held from an academic point of view, the professors of International Relations at the Complutense University of Madrid and the Antonio de Nebrija University, as well as the director of Casa Asia, participated to “give a little more technical vision to young people about the dynamics of geostrategic and geopolitical relations in the Asian-Pacific and Indo-Pacific”, as mentioned by Julia, a professor of International Relations of the UEM and main organizer of the event.
The first talk was with the Director of Casa Asia, David Navarro, who focused on the idea of publicizing a general perspective of the current situation on the continent. In his discussion he stated that, “Asia is currently undergoing an internal transformation of its social classes. It is calculated that between the years 2000 and 2025 the middle class will reach over 2,650 million people, that is, almost more than a third of humanity”. Navarro also expressed that Spain has long way to go in operating successfully on the Asian continent.
Secondly, the professor of International Relations at the University of Nebrija, Gracia Abad, took to the floor, proposing an analysis of the relationship between the United States and China, through the discussion of the transitional period that was the Atlantic Century (S. XX) through to the century of the Pacific (S. XXI). This is related to the “(pre)dominance or decline of the United States as a dominant power in Asia, and the rise of China as a power that, “is possibly creating the most ambitious commercial project ever generated, both economic and commercial “.
The last speaker at the table was Professor of International Relations at UCM, David García Cantalapiedra, who proposed a final summary based on the importance of young people, since the future of international relations depends on young people. Cantalapiedra claimed that there is a “lack of connection between young people here and young Asians”.
Finally, the third round table dealt with the future of Spanish investments in Asia, where the Corporate Cirector of Communication and International Relations of GESTAMP shed light onto the significance of the low participation of Spanish companies in Asia, unlike Germany, England, Russia, United States, which have been advancing their economic activity in the continent of Asia for many years now.
Sabrina Skye Fearon-Melville