China global influence wanes, thanks to Wuhan virus
China, on its part, remained dishonest when it came to disclosing the origin, symptoms and fallout due to the Wuhan virus. Instead, it gagged its people into silence, who tried to warn the world of the impending danger. The CCP did not stop there
"The Covid-19 pandemic drove down the comprehensive power of almost all States in 2021, has weakened their capacity to respond to and shape their external environment" – Lowy's report
TWO years ago, on Jan 11, 2020, the Wuhan virus had claimed its first victim in China. Within weeks the "Made in China virus" turned into a global pandemic that was of magnitude the world had not experienced since the Spanish flu 100 years ago.
Since then, over 5.5 million people have died, and over 300 million have been infected by the diseases globally. The resulting pandemic impacted millions of families, small businesses and changed the course of the global economy. Yet, despite having unleashed measureless misery across the globe in form Covid-19 and its subsequent variants, China is neither repentant nor ready to change its hegemonic behaviour, which has reduced its allies to a handful of autocratic countries.
As the outbreak engulfed nation after nation, battering their economy and killing millions of people, the world leaders and scientists had no explanation for why citizens of the world were dropping dead. This made the head of nations look powerless.
China, on its part, remained dishonest when it came to disclosing the origin, symptoms and fallout due to the Wuhan virus. Instead, it gagged its people into silence, who tried to warn the world of the impending danger. The CCP did not stop there; it armed twisted international organisations, manipulated reports, used military posturing and unleashed PR campaigns to divert world attention.
Instead of emerging as a responsible world leader during once in a century global crises, China acted like the international bully who tried to push its weight around.
The result was barring a few nations; the rest of the world closed their ranks against the communist country. The pandemic forced the world leaders to reflect on why and how the dragon nation was allowed to influence the world economy. The following global lockdowns that resulted in the economic meltdown provided an opportunity for the global leaders to press the reset button on China.
The third onslaught across the globe, by Omicron, the new variant of the Wuhan Virus, seems to be less dangerous in terms of loss of lives and acute hospitalisation, and probably the subsequent variant might end up being reduced to common flu. However, the fallout of the pandemic on the world's economy and people will take years to repair, and this doesn't bode well for President Xi's China.
Lowy Institute is an independent think tank based in Australia that brings out an annual Asia Power Index report that measures resources and influence and ranks States' relative power in Asia. According to Lowy's 2021 report, the Covid-19 pandemic drove down "the comprehensive power of almost all States in 2021, weakening their capacity to respond to and shape their external environment." Further, the report states that "China's comprehensive power has fallen for the first time, with no clear path to undisputed primacy in the Indo-Pacific." Thus, Xi's China is experiencing a power vacuum in the Indo-Pacific region, posing a "significant risk of war."
This is evident from the Chinese military postures and incursions since the pandemic outbreak, from the Pacific to the Indian ocean and across the Himalayan ranges.
Thus, the question is how long before the world's patience runs out on President Xi and his wolf warriors?
China always knew India was its biggest economic rival in the region but what happened in Gulwan valley came as a harsh reminder that India was a military challenger too. The sacrifice of Colonel B Santosh Babu and his men reinforced India's image among global powers, especially in the ASEAS region, as a dependable and capable military challenge to China.
According to Statista, a German company specialising in market and consumer data, there is no way to estimate the actual damage to the world economy due to Covid-19. Still, there seems to be "widespread agreement among economists" of "severe negative impact." The global "GDP loss of 3.4 per cent" was forecasted in number terms. In value terms, "to put this number in perspective, global GDP was estimated at around 84.54 trillion U.S. dollars in 2020 – meaning that a 4.5 per cent drop in economic growth results in almost 2.96 trillion US dollars of lost economic output." It is like wiping out a little over the United Kingdom, nominal GDP that stands at $2.64 trillion.
Today, President Xi's alliance includes its two neighbours Russia and North Koreas, and Pakistan its all weather friend. The Chinese wolf warriors are pushing nations caught in China's debt trap to tow the dragon's line on global diplomacy. Xi is behaving like a school bully who is feeling sidelined.
Today, China does not enjoy the clout or hold it had over nations, especially the western and developed nations. Many have moved their manufacturing bases or are in the process of doing so out of Xi's land. Countries like Australia are decoupling their economic dependence, such as coal export from China to new competitors such as India.
Even smaller nations such as Lithuania have exposed China's design and have walked out of China-led groupings.
(The author is Founder, MyStartup TV)