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.