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(Septmber 2, 2022) Global politics in dangerous territory

While Russia's profound and transformational invasion of Ukraine on Feb 24 has fundamentally reshaped and reinforced contentious trends and contours in the geopolitics and geoeconomics of Asia, it did not set out a new direction in world politics. The international system had already been unravelling over the past decade, underpinned by the United States-China geostrategic rivalry and competition. Given deteriorating patterns and trends, the international environment is entering dangerous territory where what seemed unthinkable not long ago may soon appear to be very conceivable indeed.

Prior to President Vladimir Putin's "special military operation", international confidence and working trust among states had been conspicuously sliding, gripped and shaken by the US-China confrontation, pitting Washington's assertive Indo-Pacific strategy under former and current presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden against China's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative under President Xi Jinping. The pandemic in 2020-21 exacerbated the geostrategic tensions between the two superpowers because each handled Covid-19 its own way with separate and mutually exclusive approaches and means, especially in vaccine development and dissemination.