Covid-19 and Geopolitics
Kurt M. Campbell, an American diplomat, and political analyst declared Coronavirus pandemic a “Suez moment” for the United State as the Suez Canal fiasco in 1956 was proved the last nail in the coffin of the Briton’s global leadership. According to him, if the United States is failed, Beijing will fill the vacuum and so far the US is failing.
Coronavirus along with its impacts on global health and economy is also shaping geopolitics. Firstly, it emerged in China and then spread almost every corner of the world. Apparently, China has succeeded in overcoming its impacts, while the United States is still bogged down with it and experts believe it could take months to end.
From the late nineteenth century to the outbreak of coronavirus, in all major emergencies such as wars, epidemics, and national disastrous, the United States played a leading role in easing the sufferings of humanity. From the Spanish flu to the world wars and the global depressions, the world would always cast eyes on the United State for its survival. It provided financial, moral, technological, and humanitarian aid to the countries from East Asia to Latin America.
In the interwar era, the purpose of the United States’ generosity was to build its international posture as of an emerging power. During the cold war, it shifted its focus toward the fall of the Soviet Union to extend its area of influence. While in the post-cold war era, the US tried to preserve its position as a global leader.
For the last thirty years, the United State was matchless in its international clout and now the picture is rapidly changing. Its influence was based on the world’s perception that it would come to rescue the world during the time of crises. But, the coronavirus has exposed the hollowness of its power. Being a world leader, it was supposed to help the international community during the hour of this great need but its helplessness against this pandemic shows it is no longer the world leader.
Decades of neoliberal policies have abridged the states’ capacities to respond such crises. In the United State, one-third of people don’t have any health care insurance. In European welfare states, the situation is no different.
On the other hand, China did not spare any effort in turning this pandemic for its broader geopolitical purposes. Despite its negligence at the initial state, which experts believe, the situation could have been different if Beijing had not hidden it for weeks, it is now portraying its apparent success to the rest of the world to undermine the United States international clout.
Beijing has an edge in material assistance while the United States lacks supply and capacity to meet even its demand. Only In the US antibiotic market, the share of China is ninety-five percent. In health sector, America is dependent on China. Trump has already requested China of providing ventilators and other protective materials.
In Europe, the situation is no different. China came to help Italy even before the European Union. It sent its team of experts with all the required material to Europe and other parts of the world. According to the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, China has so far provided medical assistance to almost 127 countries.
China is taking maximum advantage of this pandemic. It is using this emergency to increase its influence all over the world. It brought central and eastern European states closer to itself through the 17+1 mechanism. It has also extended its aid to SCO, African and ASEAN countries. China’s purpose is to use this opportunity to undermine the world’s confidence in the United States’ capacity, credibility, and the system.
Moreover, China is portraying its initial success as a result of its authoritarian system. Its apparent success in this pandemic and unparalleled economic growth shows that countries don’t need democracy to develop and to deal with such crises. Portraying its system superior to the United States is longstanding agenda of the Communist Party and this pandemic is further giving impetus to it.
Casting doubts on the Americans’ political, economic and social model is a part of the Chinese grand strategy. It wants to weaken and dissolve the US alliance system and replace its primacy in Asia. The recent situation aptly suits China to undermine democracies all over the world and replace them with its political model based on the ideology of the Communist Party. After all international politics like all others, politics is a struggle for power.