For many years, the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in September was a centerpiece of U.S. global leadership…But when presidents and prime ministers gather in New York starting this week, they will do so under the auspices of an organization that is undergoing a profound transformation. The United States has let go of the wheel, and Beijing stands poised to take hold of it.
The pervasiveness of clothing made in China in U.S. markets is certainly one of the things that comes to mind when talking about the balance of trade between the two nations. But there is a hidden price tag on all the clothing that is made in China. It’s a considerable sum—and growing—that is skewing the trade relationship and putting its future at risk. That hidden price tag is water.
For all the acrimony in Washington today, the city’s foreign policy establishment is settling on a rare bipartisan consensus: that the world has entered a new era of great-power competition. The struggle between the United States and other great powers, the emerging consensus holds, will fundamentally shape geopolitics going forward, for good or ill.
Behind the escalating global conflict over trade and technology is a larger breakdown of the postwar rules-based order, which was based on a belief that any country’s growth benefits all. Now that China is threatening to compete directly with the United States, support for the system that made that possible has disappeared.
The notion of the Taliban insurgency as a fractured entity, rife with internal strife, has lingered in much of the commentary and analysis on the Afghan conflict. This is in spite of the last five years, which have witnessed the Taliban pull out of its bloodiest internal crisis and achieve its strongest position since 2001. Long after the United States quietly abandoned its stated aim of “shattering” the Taliban, even Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani was said to refer to his long-term plan for ending the conflict as “fight, fracture, talk.”
India envisions a ‘multipolar Asia’: shared regional leadership where major and minor powers have equal standing in decision-making. This model is based on the rationale that China’s rise in Asia is unbalancing the regional power structure and eroding India’s strategic choices. While a growing association with China in bilateral and multilateral mechanisms has made New Delhi more open to Beijing’s engagement, China’s strategic urge to dominate has also created a need for caution.
China has labelled itself a “near-Arctic state” and is investing in icebreakers and scientific research in an effort to wield influence over the “polar silk road”. Norway, Denmark and Canada have all claimed ownership over the North Pole based on the size and location of their respective continental shelves – data on which the UN uses to rule on questions of territorial sovereignty.
The US and China won’t be the only ones affected in the trade war raging between the two countries. As companies scramble to find ways around the ever-increasing tariffs that the world’s two largest economies impose on each other’s goods, other countries are being drawn into a conflict that might have no winners.
India has told China that its concerns about Kashmir are misplaced because it is an internal matter “that has no impact on China at all”. Vikram Misri, the country’s ambassador to Beijing, delivered the message as part of a defence of the decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, where the borders with both Pakistan and China are disputed.