What do people in Asia really think about the EU? What does Asia mean to Europeans? These are the kind of question that the Asia Europe Foundation (ASEF) was born to answer. Each year, the Singapore-based think tank commissions studies that investigate ‘the EU through the eyes of Asia’ and ‘Asia through the eyes of Europeans’. The projects gather information from thousands of news reports, hundreds of interviews with opinion leaders and an online survey of more than 12,000 citizens.
The results of this year’s studies were presented at a recent talk at the foundation’s HQ. They show that, unlike ‘Africa’, ‘Latin America’ or ‘North America’, Europeans don’t really conceptualise Asia as a regional entity at all. Instead, the rise of Asia is conflated with the rise of China, as the emerging giant dominates both news reports and Europeans’ ‘top-of-mind’ statements about the continent.