All eyes are on the Singapore summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un. Till a few months ago, nobody could have anticipated such a meeting between the two historic enemies. Nobody could have predicted that the leaders of China, South Korea, Russia and Japan would actively facilitate peace talks between the United States and North Korea.
But it is happening. On June 12, Trump and Kim came face to face for the first time, shook hands and are exploring the possibility of friendship and cooperation instead of enmity and hatred, as these words are written. The future of world peace depends on the choices that these two men make.
The Singapore summit is not the only significant development that could shape the future of Asia and the world. Leaders who attended the just-concluded SCO summit have also made far-reaching choices. The Qingdao Declaration contains several game-changing elements—India and Pakistan attended the summit as full members for the first time; China has promised $4.7 billion for the Inter-Bank Consortium of the SCO; and all sides endorsed the idea of a shared future for the SCO community.
In surprising contrast to these hopeful signs that sworn enemies are willing to explore friendship, traditional allies have started bickering with other. The G7 summit in Canada ended in bitterness and disarray, with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saying that he considered US trade tariffs to be “kind of insulting” and warning that his country will not allow itself “to be pushed around”. This enraged the US President so much that he called Trudeau "dishonest and weak" and accused him of “back-stabbing and betrayal”.
Clearly, relations between the United States and its traditional allies like Germany, UK and Canada have hit the lowest point since the Second World War. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the squabble, It underlines the truth of saying: “If you do not have control over your mouth, you will not have control over your future.”
The mood at the G7 Summit was already suspicious and hostile not only because of Trump’s aggressive demand for “fair trade” between the Western partners (which he accused of using America as a “piggy bank”) but also because the US President’s suggestion that Russia should be re-inducted into what used to be the Group of Eight (G8) developed nations.
On June 12, Trump and Kim came face to face for the first time, shook hands and are exploring the possibility of friendship and cooperation instead of enmity and hatred. Meanwhile, relations between the United States and its traditional allies like Germany, UK and Canada have hit the lowest point since the Second World War
Needless to say, Angela Merkel of Germany and Theresa May of Britain were horrified at the very thought of bringing Russia back into the fold at a time when they are projecting Vladimir Putin as the incarnation of evil.
Donald Trump himself has sought to justify his Russia suggestion on the ground that “we have a world to run” and global tensions can be reduced only by talking to all major leaders who hold the key to war or peace. This is why, he argues, he is meeting Kim Jong-un of North Korea in the hope of bringing him around to shedding his belligerent posture and participating in world affairs for mutual peace and prosperity.
China, in its own way, is also seeking to promote what it calls the Shanghai Spirit—based on mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for cultural diversity and pursuit of common development. President Xi has been harping on the theme that the era of unilateralism is over.
According to the Chinese perception, international public opinion has for too long been moulded by the views of the Western countries but that this is beginning to change. The clearest indication of this is that initial skepticism about the SCO is gradually melting away whereas it is the G7 summit which has attracted extensive criticism.
The new thinking is that the Shanghai Spirit is emerging as a new principle of international relations—the world according to Xi does not involve hostile geo-political competition, but stands for human society's new yearning for collective global governance in the 21st century.