Singapore, global community should step in now in US-China dispute

The CMA CGM White Shark cargo ship prepares to dock at PortMiami as the United States and China continue their trade war on May 16, 2019 in Miami Beach, Florida.
The CMA CGM White Shark cargo ship prepares to dock at PortMiami as the United States and China continue their trade war on May 16, 2019 in Miami Beach, Florida.PHOTO: AFP

A potential trade war between the United States and China may just be a symptom but may not necessarily be the cause of tensions (Vivian: Political off-ramps needed to ease trade tensions, May 17).

Both countries have major policy differences and they will be inclined to stand firmly on these differences.

None of them wants to be coerced or perceived to be coerced into an agreement.

In the longer term, the challenge is likely to be a battle for geopolitical, economic, technological and even military dominance and influence in the global arena.

In such a scenario, both the US and China will tend to look inwards rather than at common grounds and interests, and the resulting drift in misunderstanding can potentially exacerbate tensions and even conflicts.

Research in conflict resolution supports the value of having a credible mediator to help both parties come to a mutually acceptable agreement.

Before trade tensions escalate and cause a detrimental and potentially irreversible impact on the global economy, Singapore should perhaps work with other credible, trusted and friendly parties from both countries to help bridge the differences between the US and China.

Singapore should broker a deal and refresh the current global order so as to bring about a new era of peace and economic growth.

The looming concern with growing tensions is that there may be a possibility of miscalculation and misfire.

Therefore, Singapore and the rest of the global community should act, and act fast, before it becomes harder to achieve a win-win outcome through negotiation and mediation.

Patrick Liew Siow Gian (Dr)