Despite escalating tension between the US and China, they are not in a new "cold war", a former Singapore diplomat Bilahari Kausikan said Wednesday.
From trade and technology conflicts to the origins of the coronavirus pandemic and a new law in Hong Kong, the world's two largest economies are currently involved in disputes on several fronts.
"I don't think they're at an inevitable collision course. People forget a big factor ̵
"Doesn't mean it can't happen by accident, but it's unlikely," said Kausikan, who was previously Singapore's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, and previously served as permanent secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs of Singapore.
"On the other hand, I do not think it is the new" Cold War, "he said, pointing to the former Soviet Union (now Russia), and the United States was" only very tangentially linked "economically.
The national flags to the US and China waved outside a building.
Teh Eng Koon | AFP via Getty Images
By comparison, China and the US are now so involved and much more interconnected that both sides will find it very difficult to disconnect.
While China has played up today's protests in the United States with US state media sometimes taking jibs China is unaware of its own problems, Kausikan told CNBC.
"They probably like the show, but I think they are not without their own concerns, "said Kausikan, currently chair of the Middle East Institute at the National University of Singapore.
More than the United States, China needs financial results to legitimize the Communist Party's rule,
With global financial performance He is beaten a v the coronavirus pandemic, hitting hard on demand. Chinese growth cannot really recover until the rest of the world does, he said, and it will hurt social mobility.
Beijing's emphasis on "one country"
China last week approved the plan to introduce national security laws in the Chinese city of Hong Kong. It comes amid protests for erosion of freedoms in the territory, as the new law will bypass the city's legislature.
Since Hong Kong's sovereignty was handed over from the United Kingdom to China in 1997, it has been governed under the "one country, two systems" framework that gives the city's freedoms and limited autonomy that they do not have in China – for example, freedom of expression and the right protest.
China says Hong Kong will continue to retain its autonomy even with the new law aimed at secession, undermining state power, terrorism and foreign interference. However, those who oppose the law say it will further reduce Hong Kong's autonomy and give the central government greater powers to control dissent.
"I don't know why anyone is surprised by this move from China," Kausikan said. Kausikan so.
"Whatever autonomy Hong Kong has enjoyed since 1997 has been of leave and benefit to Beijing," Kausikan said. "& # 39; One Country, Two Systems" – Beijing has always emphasized & # 39; one country & # 39; and added that its scope depends on Hong Kong's sense of boundaries and self-restraint.
"There are a significant number of people in Hong Kong who do not know the boundaries," he said, citing previous pro-democracy protests. Even before last year, such as in 2014. It has also become increasingly clear that the city's administration has not been able to to control civil unrest.
While the Hong Kong people are suffering from the fallout of recent developments, he said it will do nothing for China.
"Does Beijing care? I don't think it cares that much, "Kausikan said." It's just a Chinese city. "
That's because Hong Kong's economic significance for China is diminishing.
According to Reuters, Hong Kong contributed only around 2.7 % to China's GDP last year, compared to more than 18% in 1997 – when it was handed over to China.
While investors needed Hong Kong to enter the Chinese market in the past, they can now make it directly to the mainland – albeit with a slight disadvantage – as Beijing opens access to the markets.
"Hong Kong's historical role as the intermediary between the rest of the world and China is eroded and will continue to erode," he said.