As the superpowers contest geopolitical dominance, and with the return of armed conflict, Prime Minister Hun Sen urged the superpowers to ensure there are measures in place to avoid the contest becoming a zero-sum game.

While addressing the ASEAN-EU Commemorative Summit in Brussels, Belgium on 14 December to mark 45 years of dialogue relations between the two regions, Hun Sen acknowledged that competition is inevitable.

“He was of the strong view that the major powers should put in place guardrails that prevent their competition from becoming a zero-sum game,” said a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation about the outcome of Hun Sen’s trip to Europe.

Hun Sen said that world is currently facing its biggest test since the end of the Second World War.

He said geopolitical competition between major powers has shaken the international order to the core, and threatened our hard-earned peace, stability and prosperity.

“Armed conflicts that were often thought of as a relic of the past have returned in many parts of the world as a grave concern, and ASEAN and the EU are no exception.

“What is worrying is that these developments are happening at a time when multilateralism is under great strain, and nationalism and protectionism are on a rapid rise,” he said.

Against this backdrop, Hun Sen stressed that a rule-based international order has to be safeguarded, and multilateral systems have to be inclusive, transparent, fair and open.

He urged major powers to explore practical areas of cooperation that would enable them to build trust and confidence in one another, and promote mutual and global interests.