international order

11 May 2020

US vs China: Has Covid-19 ushered in a new international order?

The coronavirus crisis already means radical changes in global politics and economics. For instance, consider the inevitable supremacy of China and the possible collapse of the US. The predictions about how the present crisis will affect the current international order are very volatile. If you want to understand what that means, we will explain it to you!

In January and February, as the new coronavirus began to spread in Hubei, people began to reach a new consensus. Economists began to say that this health crisis could be China’s “Chernobyl moment”. The crisis had the power to destroy the elite’s credibility and authority. Perhaps it was even the beginning of the end for the Chinese Communist Party. This is because of the strongly positive geopolitical consequences for the US and the broader West.

international order
The COVID-19 crisis will surely mean radical changes in global politics/economics. Understand how the US and China are involved in a new international order. (Source: Trademap)

Signals of a new international order

But then, almost as quickly, the predictions went into reverse. China appeared to contain the spread and the virus moved on to Europe and the US. Then, it quickly became accepted that the coming global recession and the absence of clear US leadership would mean a new international order. However, this new scenario would have China as the winner.

We cannot deny the catastrophic failure of US political and diplomatic leadership during the Covid-19 crisis. It can even cost the United States the lives of thousands of Americans. Additionally, it would also cost the international influence of the nation over the coming months. 

Despite all that, in terms of economic, military, technological, and diplomatic power, the US remains overwhelmingly superior. So, we have no indication that Covid-19 won’t change radically the international order

China could win the battle with a long-term advantage, though. However, only if they switched quickly to a strategy of transparency and co-operation.

Instead, the nation is arresting people who criticized its cover-up. This is happening because the authorities are aware of the need to entrench the Chinese Communist Party’s authority. After all, they are in the face of an economic downturn. Besides, the country launched a global propaganda campaign to raise doubts about the Chinese origin of the virus.  

Let us pay attention on what comes next

Whether China will be able to turn the pandemic to its advantage will depend on some factors. They are the politics and economies of China and America after this crisis. What looks more at risk is globalization. It depends heavily on the “decoupling” of the US and China.

It has become ominously clear in recent weeks that the US has become overdependent on China for many vital medical products and devices. 

So is globalization dead? The economies of the US and China are intertwined and might sink or swim together. A big mistake still being made is to assume that the Covid-19 crisis will last a matter of months. It may well be with us for well over a year, stretching the international order to its breaking point.