With full international attention on the U.S.-China conflict, it is easy to forget that other nations might still have a role to play in how the world order evolves.
June 2019’s Shangri-La Dialogue gave some clues. The meeting began with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s keynote speech, in which he argued that while Asia continued to value the United States’ presence, the U.S. needed to learn to accept China’s rise. This was “met with shock, dismay and even […] a measure of incredulity by some U.S. delegates” there and continued “to reverberate in Washington policy circles,” Hugh White wrote in an op-ed for the Straits Times. The meeting’s last day had Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen noting that “if America First or China’s rise is perceived to be lopsided against the national interests of other countries or the collective good, the acceptance of the United States’ or China’s dominance will be diminished.”
In response, Bonnie Glaser — an American scholar and Asia observer — warned the region to “not draw a false equivalence between U.S. and Chinese actions.” Glaser suggested “the choice that Southeast Asia must make is not between the U.S. and China,” but “between a future in which there are shared rules and norms within a rules-based order that everyone upholds, and a future in which power prevails, the strong bully the weak and rules are disregarded in favor of a ‘might makes right’ approach.” Läs artikel