Think Tank (6/2020)
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Middle-Power Diplomacy in the New Era of US-China Competition
17 Nov 2020

On 17 November 2020, RSIS and the Korea National Diplomatic Academy (KNDA) jointly hosted a roundtable on “Middle-Power Diplomacy in the New Era of US-China Competition”, with presentations delivered by Assoc Prof Alan Chong, Acting Head, Centre for Multilateralism Studies, RSIS; and Prof Choi Wooseon, Director-General, Department of Security and Unification Studies, Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security (IFANS), KNDA.

Amb Ong Keng Yong, Executive Deputy Chairman of RSIS, and Amb Oh Youngju, President of IFANS, KNDA, delivered opening remarks for this closed-door event. The roundtable was moderated by Prof Choe Wongi, Head, Center for ASEAN-India Studies, IFANS, KNDA, with 12 participants from each side joining in the discussions.

In his presentation, Assoc Prof Alan Chong spoke about “non-great powers” and how they would navigate an environment where “great powers” clash. He also explained why their influence should not be dismissed on the international stage. Prof Choi Wooseon shared his assessment of the current state of Sino-US relations, and his prediction of the US’ China policy under the incoming Biden administration.

The ensuing discussions focused on the definitions and roles of middle powers in the region amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and at a time when the strategic rivalry between the US and China is likely to increase. The idea of the 10 ASEAN states being viewed as a collective middle power was also raised, along with the importance of multilateralism to small states and middle powers.

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