STEVEN KUO: Middle powers face conundrum of choosing sides in US and China duel
Great powers can dish out devastating punishment if offended
We live in interesting times. In the same way school soccer teams pick their players, China and the US have been picking their teams. On the one side, the US has lined up Japan, Australia and India in the Indo-Pacific, an “Asian Arc of Democracy”, with the EU and UK. China has lined up Russia, Turkey and Iran.
The global pecking order is at stake, and both sides have their heels dug in. Foreign ministers of middle powers, from Indonesia to SA, are surely dreading having to take calls from their US and Chinese ambassadors. The repercussions of being pressured to take sides, and the economic punishments the two great powers can dish out when offended, can be devastating...