United Nations

A neon sign of the American flag and neon lights at One Times Square in New York, 31 July 2020. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP)

No country can be the world's policeman: Debt-ridden US needs to focus on itself

For all of President Trump’s failings, says US academic Han Dongping, he did persist in his belief that the US has over-extended itself abroad and sought ways to pull it back. Whoever becomes the US president next will have to recognise that the US’s global role has changed irrevocably since 1945.
The Statue of Liberty is seen over a wind blown American flag scarf on Liberty Island on 20 July 2020 in New York City. (Jeenah Moon/Getty Images/AFP)

A 'failed state'? China must not misjudge the US

Some Americans have begun to regard the US under the Trump administration as a “failed state”. While many Chinese worry about Trump’s irrationality and unpredictability in playing the "China card", others are slighting the US, believing that now is the opportunity for China to displace the US on the global stage. But is the US a failed state? Political scientist Zheng Yongnian cautions that it may not be so, and China must not only read the US rationally and realistically, it also has to learn to coexist with the US under harsher conditions.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo inspects Indonesian navy ships at Lampa Strait Navy Base, 8 January 2020. (Indonesia Cabinet Secretariat website)

Indonesia crosses swords with China over South China Sea: 'Bombshell to stop China's expansionism'?

Indonesia has recently taken a firmer position vis-à-vis China on the South China Sea (SCS). This was described by some as the first time that any of Manila’s Southeast Asian neighbours had stood up and endorsed the 2016 Arbitral Tribunal Ruling, which rejected Beijing's claims to most of the critical waterway in SCS and ruled in favour of the Philippines. Is Indonesia's assertive stance “a bombshell to stop China’s expansionism” or “an extension of the Indonesian existing policy”?
Workers put up a mural on a Northwell Healthcare building featuring healthcare workers who are on the frontlines during the Covid-19 pandemic on 5 May 2020 in New Hyde Park, New York. (Al Bello/Getty Images/AFP)

America's tussle with WHO: Are UN specialised agencies 'toothless and useless'?

Zhang Yun reminds those bent on reforming UN specialised agencies such as the WHO of the genesis of such institutions. They were never meant to be supranational bodies overriding the authorities of sovereign states, but vehicles, hence “agencies”, that facilitate international cooperation. As politics is part and parcel of the running of any organisation, it can never be fully taken out of the equation. Rather, the question is how politics can be a positive means of achieving fruitful outcomes.
Will the global pandemic push humanity to reflect, make progress, and arrive at better global governance? In this photo taken on 27 April 2020 (rotated 180 degrees), a man is reflected on a puddle of water in a public square during the coronavirus outbreak in Valparaiso, Chile. (Rodrigo Garrido/Reuters)

The Covid-19 pandemic has worsened the chasms of the world, but can humanity reflect and make progress?

Chinese academic Deng Xize is mostly pessimistic as he traces lessons from history to conclude that international cooperation is only tenable with the combination of well-functioning international institutions and concert among the major powers. In light of further tensions between China and the US arising from the pandemic, he sees little room for cooperation on a global scale, and instead, only greater signs of animosity of the sort seen during the Cold War.
A person crosses the street on 27 March 2020 in New York City. (Angela Weiss/AFP)

The lies of globalisation

Seeing what was going on in China and how this would affect global supply chains, the West should have predicted the pandemonium they are facing now, says Chip Tsao. One radical thought he proposes is to impose a forced lockdown of the world, letting the virus die a natural death. But even that is but an impossible dream. Ultimately, the pandemic's greatest gift to mankind is forcing one and all to confront the hard truths of globalisation.
The headquarter of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) is pictured in Geneva, Switzerland on 3 March 2020. (Denis Balibouse/Reuters)

China and the US battle for influence at the UN

Singaporean candidate Daren Tang, chief executive of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore, won the nomination for the post of the new director general of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) on 4 March, pipping the Chinese deputy director general to the post. Chinese professor Zhu Ying analyses the push back from the US amid China’s rising influence in various UN bodies.