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Report: Rifts starting to show in multilateral world order

By Jiang Hong | 2016-10-13 | Hits:
(Chinese Social Sciences Today)

John Chipman, director-general and chief executive of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, delivers a speech at the book launch of the Strategic Survey 2016: The Annual Review of World Affairs on Sept. 27 in London.  


LONDON—A series of geopolitical and global economic trends have weakened international institutions and norms, increasing the risk of conflict, according to the Strategic Survey 2016: The Annual Review of World Affairs released by the International Institute for Strategic Studies on Sept. 27.

“The underpinnings of geopolitics have splintered so much in the past year that the foundations of global order appear alarmingly weak,” said John Chipman, head of the institute. The politics of parochialism and the tendency toward nationalism pose challenges to the cosmopolitan world order constructed in the late 20th century, he said.

It is difficult to find an analogy for the current situation in the world, and global governance is undergoing a trying time, said Jean-Pierre Lehmann, professor of international political economy at the International Institute for Management Development.

Unilateralism is now the preferred mode of conduct, according to the report, and the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union is a reflection of the new trend. The postwar order headed by the United States is collapsing, with the World Bank and the IMF facing deep crises and the need for reform, Lehmann said.

Chipman said that Brexit has not damaged the United Kingdom’s relations with the European Union and the United States in the short term, but Britain will have to negotiate new trade relations with both.

In the report, the institute argues that strategic goals should be paramount, and the ultimate goal in the interests of both the United Kingdom and the European Union is to establish a new strategic partnership with economic, diplomatic and security elements, Chipman said.

The present potential threat to the relationship between the United States and Europe is not Brexit, but the US presidential election, Chipman said. Engagement of the US in the world faces a potential threat from the nature of American politics. Donald Trump has a transitional approach to US alliances internationally, and even Hilary Clinton must be mindful of the public’s distrust of international interference in domestic policy, he said.

The US remains a geopolitical swing player, but it is perhaps no longer the indispensible power it proclaims to be, Chipman said.

According to the report, China is not yet seeking to build an alternative world order, but it is supporting new institutions, broadening its geopolitical ambitions and making itself heard with greater firmness. Unlike previous superpowers, China has shown no sign of exporting its political values or system.

In its “Strategic Geography” section, the report mentions China’s “Belt and Road” initiative, highlighting its key areas and potential benefits. The initiative is deepening China’s engagement with countries along the routes. In addition, China is providing an effective platform for the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to show its vitality and flexibility, according to the report.

The “Belt and Road” initiative has implications for the global economy as well as the geopolitical landscape, Chipman said. With a significant international membership and high standards for global governance, the AIIB complements the existing global development banks, he said.

Compared with the Trans-Pacific Partnership or the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, the “Belt and Road” initiative is characterized by its inclusiveness because more countries are involved, Lehmann said. The initiative could bring some hope for the gloomy global economy, he added.