Trump’s aversion to multilateralism ‘very dangerous’

The World Economic Forum's panel titled 'The Geopolitical Agenda' kicked off on Tuesday. (Screenshot)
Updated 22 January 2019
0

Trump’s aversion to multilateralism ‘very dangerous’

  • The panel was moderated by the dean of Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies Vali Nasr
  • Singaporean academic Kishore Mahbubani said that “rationally what the established power US should be doing is engaging in multilateralism with a rising power like China”

DAVOS: The World Economic Forum's panel titled 'The Geopolitical Agenda' kicked off on Tuesday with panelists from China, Japan, Singapore and the US focusing on the US’s relationship with Asia amid trade wars and President Donald Trump’s policies.

The panel was moderated by the dean of Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies Vali Nasr.

“Trump’s aversion and hostility to multilateralism is very much dangerous,” Chairman of the Asia Pacific Initiative Yoichi Funabashi said.

“For the past 30-40 years, Japan and East Asia has benefited greatly from the liberal international order where free trade and multilateralism is an essential part as guiding principles,” he added.

Dean of the Institute of International Relations at Tsinghua University Yan Xuetong explained how coming to a solution between China and the US amid the trade conflict will not be easy.

However, he stated that the conflict will not spill over to military or ideological ones.

“More and more countries will prefer to do the bilateral discussion than the multilateral, so in that way bilateral diplomacy is gaining momentum,” Xuetong said, adding that “As long as US is the strongest power in the world and US impact still number one and larger than anyone else, the most important thing is that no matter what the US does, it is always an example for others to follow.”

Singaporean academic Kishore Mahbubani said that “rationally what the established power US should be doing is engaging in multilateralism with a rising power like China.”

Mahbubani’s comments fell in line with Director-General of Royal United Services Institute Karin von Hippel’s comments on the Trump administration’s challenges.

“The challenge Trump poses to the order is that he’s been more focused on disrupting, but not focused on what to put in its place” von Hippel said.

The discussion delved further into technological advances and the cyber obstacles that stand in the way and aid countries and nations. 

“I think there’s still so much confusion on what it [AI] means and how to apply it and how to control it, and you can add that the concerns about technology and the rapid changes in technology add to this uncertainty that many of us have,” Von Hippel said. 

 


‘Panic mode’: Witness describes aftermath of Sri Lanka bombs

Sri Lankan officials inspect the site of a bomb blast inside a church in Negombo, Sri Lanka April 21, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 50 min 31 sec ago
0

‘Panic mode’: Witness describes aftermath of Sri Lanka bombs

  • Over the course of the day, eight bombs exploded at churches and luxury hotels, killing more than 200 people
  • Many Sri Lankans remember well the terror of the 26-year war

COLOMBO: Bhanuka Harischandra was running a little late for his meeting Sunday.
As a car carrying him pulled into the back entrance of the luxury Shangri-La Hotel in Sri Lanka’s capital of Colombo, he realized something was wrong.
People were telling him not to come in, it wasn’t safe. Still, the car pulled around to the front of the hotel and Harischandra saw the aftermath of a bombing. People were being evacuated, others were being dragged. Blood and ambulances were everywhere.
“It was panic mode,” Harischandra, a 24-year-old founder of a tech marketing company, said by telephone later in the day. “I didn’t process it for a while.”
He decided to go to the Cinnamon Grand Hotel, where he thought it would be safe. But just after he was dropped at the luxury hotel and about to enter the building, he heard another bomb go off.
Now he was being evacuated. Soot and ash fell on his white sweat shirt.
His car had left, so he hailed a motorized rickshaw and went to meet friends at a coffee shop. They contacted other friends, trying to make sure everyone they knew was safe.
It was too soon to think about what it might mean.
Over the course of the day, eight bombs exploded at churches and luxury hotels, killing more than 200 people. The Easter Sunday violence was the deadliest the South Asian island country has seen since a bloody civil war ended a decade ago.
Many Sri Lankans remember well the terror of the 26-year war. But not Harischandra, who was just a teenager when it officially ended. Toward the end, the conflict was not in Colombo. Growing up, he was mostly aware of his parents’ anxiety about safety, not of actual fighting.
Now their anxiety is back.
“For them, it’s a bit of a different situation,” he said. “They’re afraid this might start racial violence.”
On Sunday night, he was with his family, observing a curfew. He said there was “a lot of tension” in the air, but he was also hoping that the worst might be over: It had been a few hours since the last blast.
Harischandra was heartened by the fact that his social media feed was flooded with photos of the lines of people waiting to give blood. Lines so long “you can’t see the end.”