WHAT THE CORONAVIRUS MEANS FOR CHINA'S FOREIGN POLICY?

Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Diplomatist|May 2020

WHAT THE CORONAVIRUS MEANS FOR CHINA'S FOREIGN POLICY?
WHAT THE CORONAVIRUS MEANS FOR CHINA’S FOREIGN POLICY?
DEVENDRA KUMAR

Introduction

A crisis is generally a trigger for radical changes in the dynamics of the balance of power in international politics. Yet history tells us that such changes take shape rather in the long term than it is expected in the heat of the moment unless there is a major war. China’s diplomatic approach during the Covid19 reflects a flawed understanding of such a lesson from history. While the Covid19 crisis that has engulfed the whole world will certainly bring about changes in the economy, the balance of power and soft power, the question of whether it is the right opportunity for China to seize the responsibility of a major power is something that divides Chinese views and the rest. Chinese leaders and opinion-makers would have us believe that it’s the right time for China to assume such a role for three reasons. One, China has gained enough material capacity to deliver as a major power; secondly, the west, meaning the USA, is unable to play that role any more, and finally, China represents a morally superior and benign power that works with all country towards achieving a ‘community of shared future’, unlike the United States.

Context

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May 2020