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The Munich Security Conference, which traditionally brings together heads of state and government, foreign and defense ministers in February, is usually expected to bring some kind of intrigue. This time round, the role was claimed by the conference report, titled “Westlessness,” whose main message was the loss by Western countries of their global leadership and, as a consequence, the growth of nationalist sentiment in Western countries and the loss of their monopoly on resolving international conflicts.
With the year 2019 already on the way out, its preliminary results can already be summed up, and one of the main takeaways is the systematic effort by the United States to deter China by waging a trade and economic war on it and using technological boycott and military-political pressure. US Defense Secretary Mark Esper recently went on record saying that Washington views China’s importance in “a new era of great-power competition” as a top priority, adding that the Pentagon will be looking for additional forces and means to dispatch to the Indo-Pacific region.
During a recent meeting with his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in at the White House, US President Donald Trump said that while a step-by-step agreement with North Korea concerning that country’s nuclear program remained on the table, his administration was still focused on “the big deal.” Trump announced plans for his third meeting with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, but added that this would require “lengthy preparation.” The South Korean president likewise spoke about the need for the US and North Korean leaders meeting again shortly and underscored the need to maintain the current pace of negotiations.
Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent state visits to Italy, Monaco and France set off a flurry of comments by European media, which even called Mr. Xi “Marko Polo in reverse,” who arrived in Europe to open the world to China and Chinese goods. The outcome of the Chinese leader’s visit is pretty vague and certainly gives a lot of food for afterthought for both the guests and the organizers. Still, Xi Jinping’s trip to Italy produced quite tangible and concrete results by latching Europe’s third-largest economy onto China’s “Belt and Road Initiative”.