The post-pandemic world order

Chinese Presiden Xi Jinping visits Chuanshan port area of the Ningbo-Zhoushan Port, Zhejiang Province inspecting the resumption of work and production in Zhejiang/ Photo by Xinhua/Shutterstock

Nations are often found to have a sense of confidence that their institutions can envisage calamity, contain the impact, and reinstate the stability. However, things have turned out to be completely different. Coronavirus has such a grappling effect that it has brought the world to its knees. With the global pandemic, it has become a turning point at both the national and international levels. It has made us realize that we all turn to the government and not the private sector in a crisis.

Many observers of international affairs have started forecasting the impact of the pandemic on the global order. The U.S. has been the lone superpower since the Cold War ended. In many ways, it could be argued that American hegemony is complete in many ways, and it eclipses every aspect of our lives for over 30 years. It has impacted the choice s of people even if they live on the other side of the planet. The U.S. controls all significant institutions that affect the global economy. It has enormous influence over the United Nations and specialized agencies. It also impacts consumer choices of the peoples who live far, far away from North America. 

The WHO director general, Tedros Adhanom addressing via video link to the World Health Assembly/ Image Source: NYT

However, recently, the U.S.’s allegations on the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) have raised concern for all. [1] Further halting the organizations, it makes a mark that irrespective of the organization’s political and economic control, the flow of globalization has surmounted the country. [2] Even after being the world’s sole superpower, it could not protect itself from this pandemic. It is now that country which has the maximum number of cases.

These concerns call for a discussion about whether China be replacing the U.S. in world hegemony or not. Arguments have been both favorable and unfavorable regarding China’s influence increasing or decreasing due to this crisis. One thing is for sure that the post COVID-19 world would be an altogether a different place to live.

When we reassess the state of affairs, one would realize that many institutions have failed to achieve the required expectations. The more we divulge into the past, the more difficult it would be to move forward. On the out path to move ahead, it is time to analyze where it all began.

The first phase of globalization or Globalisation 1.0 began to post-Cold war and lasted till recently—this involved trade agreements, expansion of democracy, and various other development not seen before. Although there were various setbacks to the process, yet it was moving steadily on its path. Countries were interdependent and were surviving alongside one another. Unfortunately, with the disease affecting more than 213 countries, [3] it is hard to state that Globalisation 1.0 might end.

FILE PHOTO: Shipping containers being loaded onto Xin Da Yang Zhou ship from Shanghai, China at Pier J at the Port of Long Beach in Long Beach, California, U.S., April 4, 2018. REUTERS/Bob Riha Jr./File Photo

It is forecasted that the second phase of globalization or Globalisation 2.0 would begin in the post-pandemic world. Globalization 2.0 would be different. This phase would observe separate blocs that would increase their military might and create their supply chains.

Tumbling oil prices and overall pandemic effects are just the tips of the iceberg. The major incident that would take place is the U.S.-China rivalry.

For years we all have lived under the pretext that the U.S.-China rivalry, not in the worst condition, is like the US-Soviet Union rivalry. It unambiguously implies that it will derail the overall economy if they go to war, which both cannot afford. 

The pandemic has made them realize that the over-dependence on China for the supply chain has its disadvantage. China, wherein a single country has the largest share on the supply chain, has its pitfall. [4] As a result, the U.S. is followed by many countries pulling out from China and investing in friendlier countries in Asia; this gives both reasons to have a head-to-head battle. It includes aggressive military activities in disputed areas and a battle on another forum such as the competition to release their 5G network in the international market. [5] China has already spearheaded this fight with home-grown company Huawei. 

Not only that, but many countries have also retaliated against the Dragon for the spread of the virus. World leaders and even private institutions are suing China for damages and reparation. Australia and several other countries have called for an inquiry concerning the origin of the virus. [6] Germany and Britain are hesitating to invite Huawei. [7] President Trump also has blamed China for the transmission. Bild, a German newspaper, has also demanded $149 billion in compensation from China for Germany damages. [8]

Across the globe, a backlash has been building against China for its initial mishandling of the crisis. It leads to countries wasting on crucial time to prepare for the fight against the virus. In other words, China has flouted norms of the International Health Regulations and various other international laws. Many nations are exploring the options to sue China under various international establishments such as the International Court of Justice, Permanent Court of Arbitration, W.T.O., under the U.N. Convention on Law of Seas and Bilateral Treaties. Their misdeeds have resulted in putting a brake on the world. [9]

All the other countries have closed down; China has begun to function normally. When the world stock market came down crashing, the Chinese stock market mysteriously held its ground. Moreover, Shanghai and Beijing, china’s biggest cities, were hardly affected by the pandemic, although they are about 2,00km away from the epicenter Wuhan. On the other hand, the virus traveled across Europe, North America, Asia, and even Australia. No continent apart from Antarctica has remained untouched by this virus.

Xi’an, China, a starting point of the New Silk Road/ Getty Images

On top of all of these, the Chinese are using this whole situation to their advantage. China is using its predatory skills to take over industries and distressed businesses. That is why even India was forced to amend its FDI laws after the Chinese central bank took over a 1% stake of HDFC bank- India’s most prominent housing mortgage lender. [10]

The Chinese supply of P.P.E. kits being defective is also being announced by countries like Netherlands, Spain, Italy, and others. [11] Hence it proves that countries are not rallying behind China for leadership.

A global shift is indeed expected after the pandemic is over. There would be a rise of a new hegemon. With countries isolating China, it would be grueling for the state to fill the vacuum created by the lack of American leadership. China requires mastering a lesson- one cannot sway over other countries b rolling over them. A world order with china as an ascending player in particular. Fortunately, China leading the international community is out of the box.

REFERENCES

[1] “Trump Says ‘China-Centric’ WHO ‘Really Blew It’ on Coronavirus.” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 8 Apr. 2020, in.reuters.com/article/health-coronavirus-usa-who/trump-says-china-centric-who-really-blew-it-on-coronavirus-idINKBN21Q068.

[2] Mason, Jeff, and Steve Holland. “Trump Halts World Health Organization Funding amid Coronavirus Pandemic.” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 14 Apr. 2020, https://in.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-trump-who/trump-halts-world-health-organization-funding-amid-coronavirus-pandemic-idINKCN21W34Y.

[3] “Countries Where COVID-19 Has Spread.” Worldometer, 24 Sept. 2020, www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/countries-where-coronavirus-has-spread/.

[4] Bagla, Vijay Govindarajan and Gunjan. “As Covid-19 Disrupts Global Supply Chains, Will Companies Turn to India?” Harvard Business Review, 17 Aug. 2020, hbr.org/2020/05/as-covid-19-disrupts-global-supply-chains-will-companies-turn-to-india.

[5] Purkayastha, Prabir. “Why 5G Is First Stage of US-China Tech War.” Asia Times, 13 Aug. 2020, asiatimes.com/2020/08/why-5g-is-first-stage-of-us-china-tech-war/.

[6] Jennings, Peter. “Australia Is Not the Only Country Asking Questions about the Origins of Coronavirus, and China Is Not Happy | Peter Jennings.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 15 May 2020, www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/may/15/australia-is-not-the-only-country-asking-questions-about-the-origins-of-coronavirus-and-china-is-not-happy.

[7] Erlanger, Steven. “Global Backlash Builds Against China Over Coronavirus.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 3 May 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/06/19/world/asia/coronavirus-china-beijing.html.

[8] “’China Owes Germany 149 Billion Euros in Coronavirus Damages’.” The Week, The Week, 20 Apr. 2020, www.theweek.in/news/world/2020/04/20/china-owes-germany-149-billion-euro-in-coronavirus-damages.html.

[9] Kraska, James. “China Is Legally Responsible for COVID-19 Damage and Claims Could Be in the Trillions.” War on the Rocks, 23 Mar. 2020, warontherocks.com/2020/03/China-is-legally-responsible-for-covid-19-damage-and-claims-could-be-in-the-trillions/.

[10] Mascarenhas, Rajesh. “China’s Central Bank Buys 1% Stake in HDFC.” The Economic Times, Economic Times, 13 Apr. 2020, economictimes.indiatimes.com/markets/stocks/news/Chinas-central-bank-holds-1-stake-in-hdfc/articleshow/75104998.cms?from=mdr.

[11] “India, Several Other Nations Receive Faulty Coronavirus Test Kits from China.” WION, WION, 16 Apr. 2020, www.wionews.com/india-news/india-several-other-nations-receive-faulty-coronavirus-test-kits-from-China-292974

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team

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Apoorva Iyer

Apoorva Iyer is a student of B.A Political Science (Hons.) at Deshbandhu College, Delhi University

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