EU - Losing Southeast Asia?

Arno Froese

Brussels is seeking to build influence in Southeast Asia. But the European Union’s habit of criticizing governments over human rights doesn’t go down too well in the region.

General elections in Cambodia and Thailand in the summer will be highly contested, and likely marred by irregularities. Brussels has already imposed some sanctions on Cambodia over its democratic deterioration in recent years.

Myanmar’s military junta that wrestled power away from a democratically-elected government almost two years ago also plans to hold elections this year, even though it controls a fraction of the country’s territory.

Free trade pacts have now been signed with Vietnam and Singapore, although the EU has recently renewed talks with Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines. There are also hopes that a trade deal with Indonesia, the region’s largest economy, will be done by the end of 2024.

While many in Southeast Asia perceive the EU positively because of its focus on human rights, others are put off by what they consider the EU’s finger-wagging over their domestic politics.

Moreover, the EU seems to be looking at its own narratives on human rights. Writing on his blog on January 7, foreign policy chief Josep Borrell noted that there are “intense discussions over whether human rights are universal or culturally relative.”

The fight against corruption “is something that has to be done at home, here,” Borrell admitted in a speech ahead of the EU-ASEAN summit.

“Increasingly, as Borrell recognizes, the EU is called to task by other countries for neglecting human rights violations by its own governments and for its selective approach,” said analyst Shada Islam.

Put differently, Borrell’s “more proactive, innovative and creative” human rights agenda could mean the kind of work that is not likely to make the news., 24 January 2023

Arno's Commentary

Politically, as well as geographically, Europe is located between the Western continent, America (North and South) and the Eastern continent, Asia. There is little to no doubt that Asia will become of increasingly larger significance economically. Thus, the EU is somewhat desperate to build a closer relationship with the East. 

But there is the issue of human rights. Mr. Borrell makes an important point, “…intense discussions over whether human rights are universal or culturally relative.” Example: Asians honor the aged to a great extent, while Europe and the West see age more as a burden.

From a Biblical perspective, we see Europe as the continuation of the fourth and final Gentile superpower, Rome. European powers established 35 sovereign geopolitical identities on the American continent (North and South). Australia, the fifth continent, not too long ago accepted only European immigrants; those from Asia and Africa were not welcome. European powers dissected the African continent among the various colonial powers such as Great Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, and the Netherlands. In a similar fashion, it was Europe which dominated geopolitical development in Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

Based on Daniel’s prophecies, only four Gentile superpowers exist: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Thus, Europe dominated planet earth and is the only candidate to fulfill Daniel 2:44: “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.”

We realize, of course, that this was written more than 2,600 years ago. But the “kingdom” that will dominate the world is Israel. Once the Church is removed from earth, God will supernaturally intervene for the children of Israel, to fulfill Daniel 12:1: “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.”

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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