Globalisation will develop into version 2.0, says Ng Eng Hen

Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen speaking at the 10th Munich Young Leaders Roundtable in Munich on Feb 18, 2018.
Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen speaking at the 10th Munich Young Leaders Roundtable in Munich on Feb 18, 2018.PHOTO: MINDEF

Despite the backlash against it, globalisation is unlikely to be dismantled, but it will develop with a slightly different set of rules, adjustments and balance in positional powers, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said yesterday.

"We are also asking the question, who rules and who gets to make the rules, and on what basis will you be accepted or chosen as a ruler," Dr Ng told attendees of the 10th Munich Young Leaders (MYL) Roundtable in Germany.

During the discussion titled "Peace and Security in the Asia-Pacific", he said that the United States and countries in the Western hemisphere were instrumental in putting in place globalisation 1.0, which was responsible for Asia's economic growth.

However, globalisation has its problems, and is being resisted by the far right in Europe and US politics now. Even so, given Chinese President Xi Jinping's pro-globalisation position and how countries have too much vested interest in it, Dr Ng said he does not believe that globalisation will be dismantled.

Instead, he said, there has to be a "globalisation 2.0, with a slightly different set of rules, adjustments and balance in positional powers".

"The proximate question in my mind is: Suppose China continues to be the leading trade partner for all of the Asian countries, and the US is solely there from a military dominance, is that structure stable?" Dr Ng asked the 20 young leaders from 15 countries at the roundtable discussion.

The minister added that the relationship between the US and China is thus "all critical" in the next wave of globalisation.

The MYL Roundtable is held in conjunction with the 54th Munich Security Conference, where Dr Ng also spoke during a roundtable on maritime security. Dr Ng said on Saturday that China and Asean are committed to completing Code of Conduct guidelines to handle disputes in the South China Sea.

Dr Ng will be in the French capital Paris today and tomorrow to receive the Legion of Honour award. The award is the highest decoration in France given in recognition of outstanding service by civilians or military personnel who are French or foreign nationals.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 19, 2018, with the headline 'Globalisation will develop into version 2.0, says Ng Eng Hen'. Print Edition | Subscribe