With oscillating geopolitical dynamic, underscored by escalating trade tensions between major powers, Asian leaders called for a rules-based order. Certainly, they rejected unilateral and protectionist moves.
The leaders met at the World Economic Forum on ASEAN, held in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Taro Kono, minister of foreign affairs of Japan, said there is a need for rule-based international order. Hence, the international community needs to stand up against unilateralism.
Importantly, the “collapse of multilateralism, stemming from the trade war” between the United States and China, he reiterated, must follow the same principles and existing liberal international order.
Concerns over rising unilateralism
Most noteworthy, ASEAN leaders and their counterparts from Japan, South Korea and Sri Lanka echoed concerns over rising unilateralism. This was in regard to rising trade tensions and territorial concerns in the South China Sea. Additionally, they also raised critical questions about the geopolitical implications of the global rebalancing.
“Looking at the geopolitics in Asia and friction between America and China, I am concerned about the rebalancing of the global order,” observed Ranil Wickremesinghe, PM of Sri Lanka.
“What will happen to multilateral law? What we have built up is multilateral law. Will that law be decayed, diminished or can it be strengthened?”
China’s territorial moves in the South China Sea, commented Lynn Kuok, associate fellow, International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore, will reveal what type of regulatory environment will prevail.
“China is consolidating its control over the region and its resources. This matters because it will change the balance of power in the region and whether relationships in the region are governed by might or right.”
Rejecting nationalistic and protectionist trends that are resonating across the region, Pham Binh Minh, DPM and minister of foreign affairs of Vietnam said. Therefore, future growth must be inclusive, otherwise disparity will become a geopolitical threat.
Climate change is a concern
Kono said that one of his biggest geopolitical concerns is catastrophic weather changes on the back of climate change.
“The biggest concern is probably climate change, the sea water level is very high and we are getting stronger typhoons, stronger cyclones, heavier rain,” said Kono.
Importantly, he said once-in-a-hundred-years rain turns out to be once every two years. However, it is not just an environmental issue. Certainly, it involves water supply management and food security too. Therefore, there is a crucial need to be serious about taking care of this issue.