China Beckons A New Global Order
Updated: May 17, 2020
A lot has changed. The pandemic has uprooted the job gains made over the past decade with 22 million Americans filing for unemployment aid. With most of the world paralysed due to the lockdowns, the lack of demand forced the oil prices to fall below zero for the first time ever. Adding to the flurry of crises, President Trump issued a 60 day immigration ban to protect American jobs when the economy opens up again. America seems vulnerable for the first time in years.
Amidst this exists the looming question of the elections that are scheduled to take place in November. Currently, Trump’s approval rating has fallen from 49% to 43% and his disapproval ratings surged from nine points to 54%. The primary cause is attributed to his delayed response to the pandemic. Initially, he had dismissed the claims of it impacting the United States and later labelled it as the ‘Chinese Virus’ which raised considerable flak. The delayed implementation of the Defense Production Act (it allows the President to demand that corporations accept and prioritize contracts for services and materials that are necessary to aid US national defense or in this case PPE’s for health care officials) has been criticized as one of the reasons why states like New York were overwhelmed and had to import protective gear for health care workers.
What further deteriorated the situation was his decision to scapegoat the WHO and to suspend the American funding. The administration has accused the WHO of colluding with the Chinese Government on the cover up and have demanded that they carry out an in depth investigation into the origins of the pandemic. His decisions grossly limit the functions and priorities of the WHO. Furthermore, in this time of crisis, when the WHO desperately requires funding, to arrest it is impractical and insensitive. To undermine and accuse an internationally recognized health organization of foul play falls within the realm of arrogance and ignorance.
It is in times like this that the dark side of populist programmes like ‘America First’ are made clear. America is the proclaimed world leader and creator of the modern world. To now shy away from the responsibilities it has to the developing countries or world organizations poses a threat to its invincibility. This policy of isolation is coming at the worst time for the world and when one America closes its door and builds its wall, China is emerging from beyond its Great Wall. The cutting off of funding to the WHO is a trigger but the increasing hostility to aspects of globalisation (like free trade) shown by the Trump administration may be perceived as a sign of future neglect by the countries that are in need of aid. Ironically, in these times, they may be forced to seek aid from China.
In what can only be termed as a ‘diplomatic offensive’ China has been shipping medical supplies to Europe, Africa and India. By taking charge, China is essentially doing what the US has done for decades every time there has been an event of international significance. Perhaps this is China’s Marshall Plan moment. The final economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic is going to be devastating to say the least. By providing aid to countries that need to recuperate, Chinese soft and structural power can be established.
China has proven to be a tough competitor even in the past. No single country would have managed to enter into a Trade War with the world hegemon and although they left bruised and sore every time, they ensured that the Americans took a hit as well. The manufacturing sectors have been in trouble ever since and the trade deficit has increased to over $600 billion dollars. It is also true that not alot of US presidents would have involved their nation in a war that was to very obviously cause global economic downturn. The Trump administration’s “isolationist-protectionist policy” comes at the best time for China and as America turns a blind eye to the global community, loyalties may change but so may the power structure. Make no mistake, 2020 is going to be a year of too much change.
Author : Naomi Kurian