(Bloomberg) -- The world is facing a “moment of danger” with wars in Ukraine and Gaza, conflict “tripwires” in Taiwan and the South China Sea, and the same “cast of characters” on either side of those territorial disputes, Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said.
“I’m very uncomfortable,” the minister said at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore on Wednesday. “I don’t want to be excessively alarmist, but the last time that happened globally was the First World War. So this is a moment of danger.”
Ukraine has fought to repel a full-scale Russian invasion since February last year, with Kyiv getting aid from the US and the European Union and Moscow seeking support from China and North Korea. In Gaza, Israel is battling Hamas, which is designated as a terrorist organization by the US and European Union. The Palestinian group stormed into southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,400 people and abducting more than 240 others.
“We view the global developments and instability from a point of great anxiety,” Balakrishnan said. “If we get a world that’s caught up in war and distracted in ultimate strategic dead-ends, it’s going to be a world which is unstable, hyper-inflationary, disrupted and war will be the defining feature.”
Rising tensions between Washington and Beijing have centered around Taiwan, the democratically governed island China regards as part of its territory. Over the past few years, an increasingly assertive China has increased its diplomatic, military and economic pressure against the government of President Tsai Ing-wen, which rejects Beijing’s claim to sovereignty over the island. The US has bolstered its support for Taiwan in the form of increased sales of weapons and high-profile official visits.
The South China Sea is another point of contention between the two powers, with each side accusing the other of provocative or unprofessional actions in the region. The US and China each released videos last month showing tense encounters between military vessels or warplanes, incidents that raise the risk of an accident spiraling into a bigger conflict.
Balakrishnan also expressed concern about the possible effect on oil prices in the event that the Israel-Hamas war escalates. “The real issue is that if you get a regional conflagration, and, in particular, Iran gets into the act, I think you can easily imagine the impact of this on global oil supplies and therefore the price,” he said.
The New Economy Forum is being organized by Bloomberg Media Group, a division of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.
--With assistance from Samson Ellis.
(Adds comments by minister in fourth paragraph)
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