The COVID-19 pandemic has caused great damage worldwide. As a result, many people envisage that, when the pandemic is over, the world will never be the same. Then, what will happen?
However, I have discovered that in predicting the post-COVID-19 era, there are three myths that should be demystified.
Myth 1: COVID-19 virus is the last straw that will break the back of economic globalization.
It is true that, in order to stop the spread of the virus, many countries have taken several tough measures in order to limit or even halt the movement of people both domestically and internationally. The U.S. was the first country to ban the entry of people who have recently traveled to China starting early February.
However, it should be understood that freedom of movement will certainly resume as soon as the virus is completely contained globally.
Global value chains (GVC), one of the most important hallmarks for economic globalization, are broken nowadays as the movement of goods is also negatively affected by various measures put in place to contain the virus. However, GVC will surely re-establish itself when these measures are lifted in the post-COVID-19 era.
As Chinese President Xi Jinping remarked at the World Economic Forum in Davos in early 2017, "From the historical perspective, economic globalization resulted from growing social productivity, and is a natural outcome of scientific and technological progress, not something created by any individuals or any countries."
Though social productivity and scientific and technological progress are faced with hardships today, in the longer run, they will continue to proceed steadily, boosting economic globalization in a business-as-usual manner.
Myth 2: COVID-19 will turn the world order upside down.
The current world order is composed of two parts: a multilateral world order and a liberal world order. Despite the great damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, neither part of the world order today is likely to undergo significant transformation.
The multilateral world, built upon the UN Charter and multilateralism and supported by many countries in the world, represents a historical trend towards world peace and development. Therefore, it will not be destroyed by the COVID-19. On the contrary, the struggle against the virus indicates that international cooperation and mutual respect, cornerstones of the multilateral world order, are urgently needed.
According to Wang Yi, China's foreign minister, China is one of the founders and guardians of the current international system and world order. What he meant is certainly a multilateral world order.
Though the liberal world order, equivalent to Pax-Americana, some argue is losing its luster, it will not be stopped by the pandemic. First of all, having dominated the world for so many decades, the liberal world order has become more and more resilient; secondly, despite the claim that the West is faced with what the Munich Security Conference described as "Westlessness," it continues to be supported by the West; and finally, the U.S. is still the only superpower in the world.
However, in the post-COVID-19 era, the confrontation between the multilateral world order and the liberal world order will be intensified in the post-COVID-19 era.
Myth 3: COVID-19 pandemic will end the "American century"
In the history of mankind, the world has always been dominated by one or a very small number of countries. The "American century" simply means that, for more than a century, the U.S. outstrips its closest rivals in hard and soft power.
Indeed, with the rise of China and other emerging economies, the relative power of the U.S. is becoming weaker and weaker. That is why President Trump wishes to "make America great again."
Moreover, President Trump's efforts to fight against the COVID-19 is certainly a failure. However, it does not mean that the "American century" will be doomed by the COVID-19. The U.S. military strength remains the same although many sailors aboard their aircraft carriers were hit hard by the virus. The U.S. economy will suffer from a negative growth rate, but almost every economy in the world will fall into recession.
To put it another way, the COVID-19 pandemic has weakened the hard power of every major country in the world, and no country can claim a victory. Therefore, the equation of balance of power of the world in the near future is unlikely to be changed in a major way.
But the U.S. should not be complacent. It has the largest number of confirmed cases of infections. It has threatened to punish the World Health Organization so as to find a scapegoat for its inability to manage the health crisis. Therefore, its international image as a superpower has been greatly tarnished.
In conclusion, when we predict the post-COVID-19 era, we should be realistic about what may come next. The world will certainly go through some changes but the economic globalization is going to continue, the world order is here to stay as well and the U.S. will remain the most powerful country in the world still in the foreseeable future.
Source: CGTN, 23-Apr-2020