One of the most prominent fora for world leaders . . .
Leaders from government, industry, and civil society gathered in Munich, Germany for the annual Munich Security Conference (MSC) from February 14-to-16. The conference was anchored around the Munich Security Report 2020, which provides an overview of the current state of geopolitics and identifies space, climate, extremism, and technological competition as key security issues. The conference featured guests such as the French President Emmanuel Macron, the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and the German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Facebook’s Mike Zuckerberg, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and Microsoft’s Brad Smith were also present, underscoring the heightened interest in the intersection between technology and international security.
Frayed transatlantic alliance amid ‘China threat’ . . .
The theme of this year’s MSC was ‘Westlessness,’ which builds upon the widespread sense of anxiety over the purported decline of the ‘West’ on the global stage – especially with the rapid rise of China as a global power. The bipartisan U.S. delegation painted China as the main threat to the international system and U.S. defence secretary Mark Esper bluntly asked European countries to choose sides in the emerging rivalry. However, observers noted that the MSC revealed “frayed” ties between the U.S. and Europe – suggesting that a unified ‘Western’ stance against China is more difficult then ever. China’s foreign minister Wang Yi responded to the attacks on China, saying that “The West … needs to eschew the subconscious belief in the superiority of its civilization and abandon its prejudices and anxieties regarding China.”
A hard path forward for Canada . . .
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, accompanied by Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne, participated in this year’s MSC. In his speech, Trudeau emphasized the importance of global economic security and highlighted Canada’s initiatives on the international stage, urging leaders to work collaboratively to tackle major challenges such as climate change and the modernization of the World Trade Organization, without mentioning China, distancing himself further from the U.S. position. Champagne also met with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on the sidelines to discuss bilateral relations, who praised Canada’s help fighting the COVID-19 virus. This year’s MSC charts out a challenging path forward for Canada – as it struggles with the balancing of relations between Beijing and Washington.
- Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada: Canada as a 21st Century Pacific Power
- Asia Times: Munich Conference reveals East-West divide
- Munich Security Conference: Munich Security Report 2020: Westlessness