Picking between US, China is ‘losers’ game’, Latest World News - The New Paper

Picking between US, China is ‘losers’ game’

This article is more than 12 months old

Outright rivalry between the two world powers may result in economic and military divide among countries around the globe: Defence Minister

The acceptance of the dominance of the United States and China would be diminished if their policies were perceived to be lopsided against the national interests of other countries, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen yesterday in a speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue.

Countries will hedge first in trade ties and later inevitably in security alliances, he added, citing the example of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, in which 11 nations chose to proceed after the US pulled out.

For the European Union, he said, if it perceives that the US' terms for trade are too onerous to bear, it is not inconceivable that it might even increase its engagement with China, or seek other partners.

"Worse still is the situation where individual countries have to choose between the US or China... That will be the ultimate losers' game and a race to diminishing benefits for all concerned," said Dr Ng.

He was speaking on the topic Ensuring A Resilient And Stable Region on the final day of the three-day forum.

Other speakers at the session were New Zealand Defence Minister Ron Mark and Indonesian Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu.

Dr Ng said the challenge for both the US and China, amid their bilateral struggle, is to offer that "inclusive and over-arching" moral justification for acceptance by all countries, big and small, of their dominance beyond military might.


He also warned that shifting economic dependencies could lead to parallel blocs with strong divisions between them.

Both World War I and the Cold War were the result of alliances that forced countries to take sides, he said.

"So, we are very clear what is at stake, and we want to maintain the current system," he added.

Earlier in his speech, Dr Ng said that many at the Shangri-La Dialogue had cautioned against this outright rivalry between the two leading economies and militaries of the world.

In his speech, General (Ret) Ryamizard said that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was a result of the domestic political conflict in those countries and had nothing to do with religious factors, as he highlighted the threat of terrorism with returning ISIS fighters from the Middle East.

Mr Mark said in his speech that he will unveil New Zealand's Defence Capability Plan 2019 on June 11, which will outline how the country will grow its defence capability and capacity for operations throughout the Pacific region.

"Communicating our motivations openly in this way, it means our international partners can clearly see what we stand for, and we are prepared to take action," he said.

"If we are all transparent in our motivations, we reduce the risk of misunderstandings and miscalculation."