In the new century, a world war can be avoided but regional clashes will continue. The global arms control process will be prickly, said an article in Beijing-based Outlook Weekly.
Mankind paid dearly for the two world wars in the first half of the last century.
How to avoid world wars has therefore become a common aspiration and the responsibility of everyone.
But it is possible to prevent a new world war from breaking out, the article said.
With the disintegration of the former Soviet Union, the confrontation between the two military blocks headed by it and the United States has been diffused.
In other words, there are no conflicting military groups now that are strong enough to wage a world war.
After the Cold War, big power relations have undergone significant changes. Major countries have strived to improve relations between one another.
In the new century, these partnerships will evolve and a more mature dispute settlement mechanism will emerge, said the article.
Also, a multipolar world pattern and, hopefully, a fairer and more reasonable international, political and economic order are expected to come into shape in the new century.
The basis on which these are built is that most peace-loving countries want to settle their disputes with others by means of dialogue rather than force.
Nonetheless, we should not underestimate the threat to world peace posed by regional clashes, the article warned.
In fact, after the Cold War, regional clashes and wars have happened more and more often.
An annual review released by the London International Strategic Research Institute in October showed that an estimated 100,000 people died in regional conflicts last year.
The Middle East, the Balkans, Central Asia, South Asia and Africa continue to be gripped by regional clashes.
High-tech weapons will be applied in clashes in the new century.
And the eruption of regional clashes will lead to more involvement from the outside, the article predicted.
The Kosovo crisis indicated that after the Cold War, power politics and hegemonism have not vanished. Instead they have further developed.
NATO's air strikes against Yugoslavia bear testimony to the flourishing of neo-interventionism, which will become the major cause of instability, the article said.
The emergence of neo-interventionism shows that the United States and other Western countries will team up to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.
To this end, they are reinforcing their US-led military bloc and trying to build a US-dominated collective defence system. Their aim is to downgrade or even replace the UN's role in maintaining international peace and stability.
In Europe, the membership of NATO has increased from 16 to 19 countries. NATO's defence range has expanded from its member countries to countries beyond.
In the new century, arms control will still be a tough job and has a long way to go, the article said.
In order to maintain military supremacy, the United States has done little to reduce troops and military expenditure.
Instead, ignoring opposition from its allies and most other countries, the United States has stepped up its efforts to develop its Theatre Missile Defence system (TMD) and its National Missile Defence system (NMD).
It even declared that it would modify or even abandon the landmark 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the cornerstone of arms control accords, so as to build TMD and NMD.
Furthermore, nuclear weapons have proliferated at an alarming speed, the article said.
It is predicted that more countries will follow the example of India and Pakistan, which conducted tit-for-tat nuclear tests, and engage in the development of their own nuclear capabilities in the new century.
The arms trade will continue to prosper and boom.
In 2000, the total turnover volume of the international arms trade amounted to US$53.4 billion. This year is expected to see even more, the article said.
The United States will export the most arms, while the Middle East will be the biggest consumer market this year, the article predicted.
(People’s Daily 02/08/2001)