While officials in the Biden Administration have emphasised that Pakistan is important to US foreign policy, especially in the context of achieving the withdrawal of the remaining US troops in Afghanistan, many believe that the White House should have been more pro-active in its engagement with Pakistan. For Islamabad, having drawn closer to Beijing, striking a balance between its relationships with the US and China has become more difficult and the US-Pakistan relationship will be greatly influenced by the Beijing-Washington nexus.
The Challenges to China’s National Rejuvenation – Part Two: The Failure of China’s Foreign Relations
China’s foreign relations are deteriorating rapidly in the wake of its aggressive behaviour, which has led many democracies to enact measures to reduce China’s influence and, increasingly, to act together to counter it. As China becomes more isolated from developed countries, its economy is placed at further risk with the potential also to derail General Secretary Xi’s overall plan for national rejuvenation.
The Challenges to China’s National Rejuvenation – Part One: The Demographic and Technological Deficits
China’s plans to become the global technological hegemon could fail. Its dependency on microprocessor technology that it currently obtains from the West, for instance, has major negative ramifications for Mr Xi’s rejuvenation of China. Those negative outcomes will be compounded by its demographic trends, which indicate that China will, if they continue, become a country that gets old before it gets rich.
Due to troubled ties with its neighbours, India’s attempts at enhancing its transport connections in South Asia and beyond have not been entirely successful. With both the Pakistani and Indian economies facing difficult challenges, it makes sense to boost bilateral trade relations and explore new forms of connectivity. While better connectivity with Afghanistan and Central Asia would benefit India, Pakistan, too, would benefit from more harmonious relations, economically, politically and security-wise.
The US-China Phase One Trade Agreement was under review by the Biden Administration as part of a reappraisal of the broader Sino-US relationship. Public statements from several senior members of the administration, however, indicate that the trade agreement will not be abandoned. It is clear that, unless Beijing’s behaviour changes considerably, the Biden Administration’s approach to trade with China will not be vastly different to that of the Trump Administration.
The Joint Statement by the Directors-General of Military Operations of India and Pakistan calling for a ceasefire can be attributed to both internal and external factors on both sides of the border and follows the decision of both India and China to disengage. For both countries, the best way ahead will be to get results from low-hanging fruit, such as bilateral trade. While past attempts to reduce tensions have not succeeded, there is no reason why a fresh start, with realistic expectations, should not be made again.
Biden’s promises to bring “decency” to the US’s policies – effectively, to reverse Trump’s initiatives – are already being viewed with concern in the Middle East and threaten to once again roil that region and turn it against Washington.
While Sri Lanka and Pakistan share cordial ties, in South Asia the China factor cannot be ignored, and both Pakistan and Sri Lanka are heavily dependent upon China and their accumulated debts to Beijing. Sri Lanka needs to strike a fine balance between New Delhi on the one hand and the Islamabad-Beijing alliance on the other.
We have a choice. The next decade could see us transition into a world of ever more destabilising shocks, or towards a reconfiguration of the systems we rely on based on goals of equity, sustainability and resilience. Forum for the Future, a leading international sustainability non-profit organisation with offices in London, New York, Singapore and Mumbai, in a recent Future of Sustainability report entitled From System Shock to System Change – Time to Transform, explores the key dynamics that lie at the heart of these transitions. It considers the interconnected nature of human and planetary health and reveals four trajectories emerging from the COVID-19 crisis. Only one of which will deliver the just transition urgently needed if we are to avert the worst of the social, climate and biodiversity crises we all face. FDI commends this Report to you in providing this summary of its analysis.
Many Middle Eastern countries were experiencing heightened levels of food insecurity even before the Covid-19 pandemic. Economic shocks related to regional and global lockdown measures, and conflict in some parts of the region have further reduced food security. It is expected that the regional food security situation will remain precarious for the foreseeable future.