As we reach the Summers, hoping that the virus goes down, China opened up Wuhan and declared it feasible to roam around within the city. People came out after a lockdown that extended for 75 days and the dragon made it a point to show the shower of lights of its victory over the virus it has helped to transfer to the world. The Chinese opened up its animal market that has been seen by most experts as the reason for the origin of the Covid 19 by a bat. People, when interviewed said that they were glad for the lockdown is a difficult time period to manage and handle social lives and were looking forward to buy cakes and enjoy their freedom. Beijing, didn’t lose sight of their own objectives, in terms of business and geopolitics. From adding around 5 more millionaires to the list of millionaires while others lose their value, to attacking Taiwan and taking on the US with Russia and a surprising ally in the form of the WHO, it is indeed a sign of how things are coming for the Chinese as the Covid virus and it’s impact changes the world order.
While the dragon shows or tries to pretend that it’s coming back to normal, it’s immediate rival, the United States Of America has been the worst affected by the virus. Today, it overtook Italy in terms of casualties and had the largest number of cases with 5,06,000 cases in the present. It has accused the dragon for purposely withholding information and working with the WHO to cover the extent of its impact in the mainland. The chief of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom, is under fire for earlier dismissing the need to close borders in January when he had gone to meet the Chinese president. Tedros’s recent comments about Taiwan and the US with subtle support from China and Russia doesn’t really make it more apparent than this as world orders change simultaneously. Even seasoned individuals like Henry Kissinger have said the same thing. Trump has indeed not been far behind in criticizing the Chinese for the right reasons, however he has been late in his approach to tackle the outbreak in America with New York being the new hotspot for the virus. His stance to think on funding WHO is another significant occurrence that highlights the kind of situation in a post Covid-19 world.
How does trade look like for the world?
Most economists have stated the obvious of a deep recession that will be worse than both 1929 as well as 2008. The difference here lies is to who benefits from it? Certainly China for starters is trying to show the world that it is also in the line of helping people during the crisis. From sending medical equipment, aid to health workers, China is all about showing how it can function in a power vacuum while the US and to some extension, Russia handles itself with the outbreak. This however hasn’t been easy for their own strategic reasons. The Chinese have face constant criticism from allies like Nepal, Italy as well as other nations like Netherlands and Czech Republic for sending substandard equipment that is faulty in terms of identifying the condition of an infected individual. In fact it’s been under discussion that the outbreak in Spain which today saw its dead toll rise to 16353 began with faulty kits from the Chinese as they failed to address or identify the infected individual that went on to increase community spread in the country. Such is the situation that even Japanese and American companies have been told to leave China and establish their manufacturing or business venture elsewhere like India or Vietnam . China’s is the world’s largest manufacturer and if this is how the economic situation develops, we might see that particular aspect change as well.
So how does this work for experts in international relations or politics?
Most of them predicted an era of the Chinese with special references coming from seasoned experts like Samir Saran, where he pointed out the extent of Chinese relevance over the African continent and their push in Europe with the Belt and Road Initiative ( BRI ). Incidentally it was Italy which eagerly signed as the first country in Europe to be a part of this new ambitious project. And now, Italy has the second most death tally in the world. This was all good until the Wuhan virus made its debut and stopped the whole world from its usual way of working. Now, China stares at many things contrary of how it was predicted to lead the world in a joint situation with the US or perhaps ahead of it. Yes, their economy might grow or they might have more space to jump from the same situation their rival is knee deep in, but the world order doesn’t work in the way China works in the mainland. Early signs have already shown how many countries have a trust issue as well as a question of reliability over the dragon with the basic Medical equipment required to fight this virus. This doesn’t bode well for China in a post covid world, it shows a rather cautious or more antagonistic stance by the countries towards them. As if they didn’t have a problem before, it has further increased to the extent that countries like Estonia and Australia have tried to bring them to the book in the UN or other world bodies. But then, the change in the presence of pro- China narrative in organizations like WHO as well as their own world organizations like the Asia Development bank has given the Chinese an edge in having more say in international politics. A small point to ponder is the WHO chief’s political party alliance in his home country of Ethiopia, said to be a violent Communist party.
So finally, where do we stand?
India has taken a measured step in the positive way as it allowed hydroxy chloroquine tablets to be shipped to countries like the US, Israel, Maldives, Brazil and Australia as well as close cooperation with SAARC and QUAD nations like Australia and Japan. India seeks to increase and build more international consensus and have more standing just like the Chinese. But both countries, having been pegged to be the next two rivals for the unipolar position have distinctly different ways to increase their standing or their relevance in the world post covid. INDIA somehow is still managing to hold its fort as the number of infections increase in the subcontinent. The biggest difference between these two Asian giants is transparency. The Chinese is rightly not trusted because of their own problems as well as their stance with how the information has been shared with the outside world and how many alleged deaths they have hidden. Recently, some conspiracy theorists and other social media users have highlighted the Wuhan laboratory of microbiology had published an article regarding how they allegedly altered the virus themselves. More investigation is required to find the truth but that again, furthermore creates a veil of an red iron curtain of mistrust over China. Perhaps the post Covid world would show them rise higher or maybe get the space to be the largest economy. But would that be with their tag of being a manufacturing hub or would it be different? One thing is for certain, the Chinese era is off for a rocky start. But then, time will tell more.