MOSCOW (UrduPoint News / Sputnik – 26th March, 2020) The pandemic of the novel coronavirus disease COVID-19 has changed the political landscape in addition to shattering the economies so the global politics and international relations as we know them will cease to exist after the outbreak, experts told Sputnik.
To date, the deadly virus, first detected in China‘s Wuhan in late December, has infected over 458,000 people practically in every country of the world, killing almost 20,000 people globally, according to Johns Hopkins University’s statistics. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified the outbreak as a pandemic.
“International relations after Covid-19 will most likely never be the same. The same principles that have governed international relations so far seem to become out of date day after day. The balance of power is changing,” Tiberio Graziani, chairman of Vision & Global Trends, International Institute for Global Analyses, told Sputnik.
According to the expert, the change could become irreversible unless organizations such as the United Nations, International Monetary Fund and WHO, as well as NATO adopt “adequate strategies.”
New international relations and new ruling classes could appear as a result of the pandemic, Graziani said.
“From this point of view, the best-equipped nations will, likely, be those which will affirm the values of solidarity, of the community as the foundation of political sovereignty,” Graziani said.
The globalization of the economy has been called into question, according to Wyn Grant, professor of international politics at Warwick University.
“Clearly the pandemic draws attention to the risks that arise from the supply chains associated with globalisation. This may lead to more nationally centred economic policies. Leaving aside the response of the central banks, international solidarity and coordination has been relatively limited,” Grant told Sputnik.
China’s response to the pandemic has improved Beijing‘s standing on the global arena, Alan Cafruny, Henry Platt Bristol Professor of International Affairs at the Hamilton College, told Sputnik.
“The crisis has greatly enhanced China‘s claims to global leadership. Notwithstanding its initial slow response to the Covid-19 outbreak, the rapid containment contrasts with the [US President Donald] Trump administration’s incompetence, confusion, and inability to provide people with even basic medical items such as surgical masks, respirators, and testing kits, or to develop a coordinated plan for containment,” Cafruny said.
According to the expert, there is a stark difference in the approaches of Beijing and Washington to the epidemic on the international level as well.
The Chinese government has been providing assistance and medical supplies to the affected nations, including Italy and Iran, while Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma has been sending surgical masks, test kits and medical equipment to each region of the world amid global shortages. The United States, on the other hand, has halved its contribution to WHO and suspended flights from Europe without prior consolations with EU leaders.
The crisis has deepened the rift between Washington and Beijing, according to Cafruny. The two countries cooperated extensively in the face of other major challenges of the 21st century, such as the 2003 SARS outbreak, 2008 global financial crisis and the H1N1 outbreak in 2009, but that was not the case this time.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has deepened geopolitical rivalry even as it has exposed the absence of U.S. leadership. Symbolically this has taken the form of a war of words. Government officials and prominent politicians on each side have levelled accusations of biological warfare and journalists have been expelled. Practically, it has taken the form of an absence of cooperation and communication,” Cafruny said.
Professor Grant, of Warwick University, voiced similar observations.
“The response of the US administration in blaming China for the outbreak has further worsened relations,” he said.
The COVID-19 crisis has raised doubts about decades-old institutions such as the European Union as its member states hesitated to provide much-needed support to badly affected Italy, which has registered a total of 74,386 cases so far, including over 7,000 deaths.
“Further questions have arisen about the effectiveness of the EU in a crisis with Italy considering it has been given insufficient support. The crisis has highlighted the fragility of solidarity within the EU,” the Warwick University scholar said.
His views were echoed by Graziani, who noted that China, Russia and Cuba were the only nations that took concrete steps to assist Italy in the crisis.
“At the moment, Europeans seem to regress into national and even regional selfishness … The pandemic has demonstrated the inadequacy of the supranational structures based on the liberal democratic model and on the so-called western values. New institutions will have to be built, based on solidarity relationships,” the expert said.
Professor Cafruny, in turn, pointed out that inability of EU member states’ health care systems to adequately respond to the emergency stemmed from “years of steep cutbacks resulting from the imposition of German-led austerity” the bloc’s response to the 2009 Eurozone debt crisis.