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China or America: Who Will Lead The Post-COVID-19 World Order?

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COVID-19 has badly hit the world; international economy, political processes, media, small corporations and education system went through severe repurcussions as a result of the deadly pandemic. Economists and political scientists are quietly mulling over a fundamental question: what will the post-COVID-19 world order be like?

Farah Adeed, Lecturer at University of Management and Technology, Sialkot campus, and Saleha Anwar, a Lahore-based political analyst and research scholar at University of the Punjab, Lahore, recently wrote an interesting article, “Beyond the End of History and the Chinese Century: An Analysis of the post-COVID-19 World Order.” It was published in International Review of Social Sciences on 4th Dec, 2020. These two young scholars try to illustrate the world order that is expected to emerge as a result of COVID pandemic and delve into the question: who will be its leader?

In a critical analysis of Francis Fukuyama’s End of History thesis, Joseph Nye’s “Is the American century over”, and Joseph E. Stiglitz’s “The Chinese Century”, these scholars track down the shortcomings of these papers and present their analysis on the basis of changes that have been brought about by the current pandemic.

COVID-19 hit different countries drastically; however, some countries managed to get themselves out of the corona crisis while others failed to do so. Talking specifically, China, an authoritarian regime, succeeded in combating the pandemic. America, a liberal democratic state, on the other hand, sank deeper into the crisis. China and America have been facing different internal issues that have further been exacerbated by the novel coronavirus, and the end of the pandemic anticipates the beginning of a new world order. This new world order will likely be characterized by the emergence of autocratic regimes and authoritarian capitalism, argue the scholars.

The scholars maintain that for the West, China’s success against the pandemic will be used by her to expand her autocratic model of governance. So, it is no more about America vs. China, but about democracy vs. authoritarianism.

The paper also depicts as to why the state of affairs in America is leaving debilitating repercussions for the country. America is facing 1) legitimacy crisis 2) Economic stagnation and 3) Diminishing soft power that have further been aggravated by COVID-19. However, China too is facing regional crisis in political, cultural and ideological realms. China does not have a definitive political policy. To put it into Louis D. Hayes words, “…(China) defines the state theoretically.” These issues need to be addressed by the Chinese state in order to emerge as the global power.

In the end, it has been encapsulated that the COVID-19 pandemic has not caused the end of the democratic political order nor it marks the beginning of the Chinese century. However, the post-COVID world will not consist of unipolar world order because of America’s inefficiency to lead the world form the forefront. China is also facing several homegrown challenges. Hence, the world order, when the pandemic is over, will more likely be a multi-polar one.

On a critical note, the article has not mentioned the role of Pakistan, Iran or Turkey in promoting China as a global power, as the latter is working on different projects in collaboration with these countries and has close ties with these Muslim states. The article also ignores the importance of the “quad” that consists of India, Japan, Australia and America, to make an alliance against China. This quad needs special attention because it negates America’s foreign policy philosophy to stay away from alliances and multilateralism, and is ready to make an exception against China.

Overall, the article carefully examines the pre-COVID world and relates it to the anticipated Post-COVID one and draws on conclusion in the favour of a multipolar world. This is a must-read for those interested in International relations, foreign policy affairs and political science

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Naya Daur