A new world order for the coronavirus era is emerging
The geopolitical map of the world is again being redrawn due to coronavirus. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has described the change as the biggest challenge of the post-war era. Half of 2020 is dominated by the Corona Virus, governments are confronting a health crisis, an economic crisis and a crisis of institutional legitimacy, all at a time of heightening geopolitical rivalry. How those tectonic shifts crystallize over the next six months will go a long way to determining the post-virus era.
Trends that were already discernible pre coronavirus have intensified and accelerated. As a fast-growing power, China is growing more assertive and jostling with countries from Canada to Australia. The U.S., the one superpower that has remained at the top table since Potsdam, is increasingly self-absorbed as the virus rip. This is due to its population and economy ahead of the presidential election in November.
The standoff between the U.S. under Donald Trump and Xi Jinping’s China was compared to the “foothills” of a new Cold War by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in November. The Joe Biden presidency would be unlikely to reverse the deterioration of U.S.-China relations.
The issues are that there’s no obvious forum to debate the shape of the post-pandemic world. There was a summit of European Union leaders and Xi which has been postponed indefinitely. The G-20 meeting in November under the presidency of Saudi Arabia remains uncertain.
China, which elicited broad sympathy and medical support at the start of the year when it became the first country to suffer the impact of coronavirus, has since frittered away that goodwill.
It’s locked in a tussle with Australia over the origins of the virus, with Canada over the detention of Huawei Technologies Co. executive Meng Wanzhou, and with India over a disputed border. Japan and the EU are moving to become less dependent on China as a result of supply-chain deficiencies exposed by the virus. Germany and Australia are two among many to enact or tighten legislation to protect against predatory investments from China.
Whatever’s happening we’re on the edge of some kind of gathering storm,” he said. “It’s just that we don’t yet know what the storm will look like or how it will break.”