The standoff between India and China at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), a disputed border between the two nuclear-armed powers, has been going on for a while. It has been a main story in South Asia, since at least 20 Indian soldiers were killed, while Beijing is yet to say anything on casualties, however it was reported that five PLA soldiers died as well. This has been the worst stand-off between the two regional powers in over 45 years.
China is having a good crisis. The spread of Covid-19 in China – if one believes the statistics and declarations of the Chinese government – is under control, while many Western countries (and the U.S. in particular) are confronted with a rising number of infections and the prospects of new and prolonged partial or total lockdowns.
In the last few weeks, the news of a 25-year comprehensive strategic agreement secretly signed by the Iranian government with its Chinese counterpart has gained an exaggerate attention from international media and some prominent political figures both within and outside Iran.
When the new coronavirus (COVID-19) broke out in Wuhan, China, in late 2019, nobody, not even the World Health Organization (WHO), knew how far-reaching and devastating it would be. COVID-19 has exposed the limitations of the power of humans and rendered powerful states powerless. As the world’s scientists are racing to find a vaccine, countries are struggling to adjust to the “new normal.”
Facing the Covid-19 global public health crisis, instead of strengthening international cooperation, we have seen more divergence and disputes related to so-called “great power competition” between China and the United States.
Even before the coronavirus pandemic, China was no stranger to the spotlight. The “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) had already raised the issue of the country’s global engagement. In compliance with the traditional concept of 面子(mianzi), China had in fact put its internationalreputation forward when relating to other countries.
None of the challenges China has encountered since its establishment 70 years ago has been as multi-faced as the coronavirus pandemic. As the phase of severe emergency comes to an end, the rising superpower is now confronted with a deteriorating economy, unabridged state-society relations, a hostile regional setting, and an over-attentive international system. At the same time, Beijing is also looking at the wide network of projects it has been building across continents over the past seven years.
“We will win this war”. In March of 2020, Donald Trump began referring to himself as a “wartime president”. After months of downplaying the threat of Covid-19 in the United States, he declared war against an invisible enemy: a so-called “China virus”.
Given that we don't know where the pandemic might re-appear from one day to the next, it is all but impossible to make firm predictions about what the future may bring. So rather than try to establish certainties about Chinese economic power in a post pandemic world, it is more realistic to be somewhat cautious and point to a range of potential scenarios instead. Here, we might think of the pandemic as providing a lens to look at China through. But rather than a lens on a microscope, one on a magnifying glass instead.
For centuries, Latin American states have sought to leverage extra-hemispheric powers, Spain, France or the Soviet Union, to gain a modicum of autonomy and power relative to the hegemon to the north, the United States. China today is no different from those other extra-hemispheric crutches, but Beijing’s long-term vision and the global balance are markedly different from the past.
By 2050, 68% of the world’s population is expected to live in cities, with almost 90% of the growth in urban population happening in Asia and Africa. Facing rapid urbanization, governments are increasingly adopting smart city initiatives as solutions for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG 11-Sustainable Cities and Communities. ICT-based urban management has the potential to maximize the benefits of agglomeration, while minimizing negative impacts like pollution.
Chinese officials have been repeatedly calling for closer cooperation with Europe, but the era of Covid-19 has made China-EU relations sour to an unprecedented low level since the two formally established diplomatic relations, 45 years ago.