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Hiroshi Yuasa

【#675】Post-Corona Clash Expected between U.S. and Chinese Models

Hiroshi Yuasa / 2020.04.22 (Wed)

April 20, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic originating from China’s Wuhan has exposed the Chinese Communist Party’s behavior of taking advantage of the pandemic to receive favors from other countries, instead of apologizing for failing to prevent the virus from spreading globally. At a time when the United States as leader of the free world is plagued with the Wuhan coronavirus, China has propagandized itself as the victor in the battle against the virus, shelving the fact that China has been the culprit of the pandemic. Western pessimists are concerned that the pandemic crisis could become a turning point for the reorganization of the world order.

However, such Chinese propaganda will not be acceptable for the international community. After feeling an unprecedented humiliation, the U.S. will take a counter-offensive along with its allies. The pandemic crisis may be escalating a naked clash between U.S. and Chinese governance models.

Is China a victor in the battle against the coronavirus?

Over the past few years, the international community has watched the U.S.-China race for global supremacy beginning from a bilateral trade war as a determinant of whether the multiparty free democracy or the single-party dictatorship model is better. After failing to cover up the coronavirus epidemic, Beijing reversed its approach and forcibly locked down Wuhan, a giant industrial city. On March 10, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Wuhan in a manner to demonstrate that China rapidly transitioned from a loser failing to cover up the epidemic to a victor winning the battle against the coronavirus.

At the same time, the Chinese Communist Party leadership has seen the time-lagged spread of the coronavirus infection to the rest of Asia, Europe and the U.S. as a significant opportunity to receive favors from the world. China is trying to absorb demand in the world as much as possible before Western countries resume economic activities after reaching coronavirus infection peaks several months behind China. Impressing the world with its dictatorial governance model invulnerable to crises, China has also vowed to fulfill responsibilities as a major power and launched external assistance. Chinese aircraft loaded with medical supplies have flown to other countries including those that are covered by its Belt and Road Initiative to expand global influence.

U.S. staging counter-offensive

Even by providing medical supplies to the rest of the world, China cannot eliminate its guilt of spreading the coronavirus. Some countries have begun to express anger at China’s moves to take advantage of the crisis for acquiring Western technology firms. Particularly, Japan, the U.S. and Europe are accelerating the readjustment of their supply chains, feeling the danger of their heavy dependence on China for vital medical equipment, information technologies and defense technologies. Foreign companies operating in China are likely to go back to their home countries or shift operations from China to Southeast Asia. Even if Chinese models initially look excellent, its economic defect of debt overhang erodes the model itself.

The Pentagon may be forced to cut wasteful or inefficient spending. As far as the U.S. continues strategic competition with China and Russia, however, calls will grow in the U.S. Congress for enhancing cooperation with allies that President Donald Trump has belittled, even if Trump known for his “America First” foreign policy is reelected in November. The U.S. has grown united to stage a counter-offensive after feeling national humiliation through such events as Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor and the Sputnik Shock in which the U.S. lagged behind the Soviet Union in launching a satellite. The country will be united against China’s deception and provocation through the pandemic crisis and push the realignment of the United Nations and other international organizations abused by China.

Hiroshi Yuasa is a Planning Committee member and a senior fellow at the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals. He is a columnist for the Sankei Shimbun newspaper.