Today we resume our weekly series on what the world will look like in the post COVID-19 era.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the world's biggest economies: the United States and China are waging proxy wars in trade, technology, geopolitical influence and the World Health Organization, bickering over who's to blame for the COVID-19 outbreak.
The conflict comes at the worst possible time when global coordination is needed for a joint response to beat the virus, stabilize economies as well as develop a working vaccine.
Will the rivalry escalate into an all-out Cold War and will there be a winner? Or will it lead to disaster for all?
We discuss this issue with Dr. Mark Shanahan, Associate Professor of Politics at the University of Reading in the UK and Dr. Peter Rough, the former director of research in the Office of George W. Bush and a senior fellow at Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C.
1. The rivalry between the United States and China most recently took stage at the World Health Organization’s annual summit.Dr. Shanahan: Why are the two countries choosing to wage this battle now?
2. P. Rough: Why are Presidents Trump and Xi so eager to point the finger? What are they aiming to gain from this blame game?
3. P. Rough: And their trade war seems to be back on. Many observers seem to agree that a decoupling is not easy to pull off and a prolonged trade dispute won't benefit either side. But this time around, rather than the usual tariffs, the U.S. is lashing out against China's tech sector. How important is securing technological leadership for countries, and how do you expect this specific battle to unfold?
4. M. Shanahan: Many countries are caught in the crossfire European nations in particular, which have been strong allies of the U.S. in the past. But with the Trump administration focusing on "America First" have loyalties been shifting, in recent years?
5. P. Rough: Throughout this pandemic, China has been touting the benefits of modern authoritarianism, highlighting its rapid economic growth and social cohesion.
What is the world order that China envisions? And what do you think its game plan is, amid this pandemic?
And what should countries caught in the middle like South Korea do?
6. M. Shanahan: China’s bold claims and accusations against the U.S. and its eagerness to come to Europe’s rescue during this pandemic has caused some wariness. Do you think this will cause countries to rethink their ties with China?
7. P. Rough: China's recent movements in the South China Sea has also drawn some concern, with the U.S. also scaling up its naval activities there. And tensions are also flaring over Taiwan. Do you think either side is prepared to turn this into an all-out cold war or do you think they will eventually put their differences aside?
8. M. Shanahan: In the meantime, it seems other countries are now exasperated by this ongoing conflict. In fact, the EU’s chief diplomat on Monday asked for the global community to step back from the battlefield between China and the U.S. Could this become a chance for a stronger multipolar international order?
It's been an insightful discussion.
Dr. Mark Shanahan at the University of Reading and Dr. Peter Rough at the Hudson Institute thank you for joining the programme