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A new cold war?

Published on Jun 11, 2014 11:55 AM

THE annual Shangri-La Dialogue held in Singapore at the end of May saw sharp exchanges pitting delegates from the United States and Japan against those from China over the rival claims of Japan and China in the East China Sea.

Vietnamese, Philippine and American participants also criticised China's extensive claims in the South China Sea.

Meanwhile, European representatives clashed with Russian delegates on the impact of Russia's annexation of Crimea and Moscow's support for breakaway groups in eastern Ukraine.

The mood was confrontational, especially in smaller informal discussions. The atmosphere reminded me of debates on regional and global issues in the early 1980s, when I served as a Singapore diplomat at the United Nations. The rhetoric was that of the Cold War and raised the question whether the world was headed for a new cold war, or even the outbreak of hostilities.

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