Even as we emerge from the pandemic, our external environment has become very troubled. United States-China relations, which set the tone for global affairs, are worsening. The two powers are divided over many issues - their rival ideologies and systems of government; China's growing influence in the world; many specific problems, including trade disputes, cyber espionage, the South China Sea, Hong Kong; and most recently and worryingly, sharply escalating tensions over Taiwan. Yet the US and China need to work together on many pressing global issues, including climate change, pandemics and nuclear proliferation. Their tense relationship is making this almost impossible. This is bad news for the world. President Joe Biden and President Xi Jinping recently held a long video call. They agreed to meet in person. But neither side expects relations to improve any time soon. Furthermore, we must all hope that there are no miscalculations or mishaps, which can make things much worse very quickly.
Apart from US-China tensions, Russia's invasion of Ukraine also has profound implications for the world, and for Singapore.