SINGAPORE – The world is entering a dangerous period with the established world order in turmoil and a new era dawning, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said on Wednesday (March 23rd).
As new norms, rules and expectations emerge, countries can work to create a more peaceful, stable and prosperous world by supporting multilateralism, promoting economic integration and redoubling efforts to safeguard the global commons, a he added.
At the South China Morning Post’s China Conference, held virtually, where Dr. Balakrishnan gave the keynote address, US-China rivalry and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine loomed large. as senior government officials, business leaders and China watchers discussed the most pressing issues in the region. .
Dr Balakrishnan said the war in Ukraine and, to a lesser extent, the Covid-19 pandemic truly marked the end of the post-World War II system of global economic integration and an international order based on rules.
At the same time, these developments are taking place amid the ongoing strategic rivalry between the United States and China, which could be inadvertently complicated by the conflict in Ukraine, he noted.
“Their different approach to the war in Ukraine is the latest complication,” he added.
Dr Balakrishnan said it would be disastrous for the two powers to focus on extreme competition or even confrontation, adding that the old Cold War strategy of containment will not be viable in the emerging multipolar world.
“How the United States and China will compete and cooperate will determine not only their trajectories, but also that of the rest of us around the world,” he added.
Given the transition to a multipolar international system, the world must find a new modus vivendi, he said.
“How we respond to and manage these dynamics, or shape the international global order, will impact our ability to protect the global commons and deliver concrete, real results for our citizens,” he added. .
He suggested that countries should, first and foremost, uphold multilateralism and international law.
The open, inclusive and rules-based multilateral order gives small states an equal voice and allows all states, even those who disagree, to work within a common set of rules established and accepted by the vast community of nations.
Singapore, as a small city, state and island, is therefore by definition a “strong supporter” of international agreements such as the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which sets out the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out, added Dr Balakrishnan.
Second, the world must strive for economic integration and interdependence, he said.
The alternative is a hard and clean fork, which will lead to slower progress, higher costs and fewer inhibitions against feuds spiraling out of control because fewer interconnected interests are at stake, he warned.