03 Апреля 2020 г. 09:15

In the Fight Against Coronavirus China and Russia Play the Role EU Has Failed to, China Expert Says

In the Fight Against Coronavirus China and Russia Play the Role EU Has Failed to, China Expert Says

Over the past week, the number of detected cases of coronavirus in Europe has doubled, said the Director of the WHO European Bureau on 2 April. Moreover, the crisis has demonstrated a failure of European solidarity, as a number of European leaders recently complained. At the same time, China and Russia are helping Italy, abandoned by its neighbors. Although Western media accuse Moscow and Beijing of ulterior motives and attempt to bring discord into the relations of EU members, their influence in Europe is growing, says Zhiqun Zhu, Professor of Political Science and International Relations at Bucknell University (USA). In an interview for Eurasia.Expert he estimated how the coronavirus pandemic would change international relations.

– On March 26, an emergency virtual G20 summit was held on the coronavirus pandemic. How would you summarize its results? Do you think G20 leaders can fight coronavirus “as one team”?

– This summit was held when the Covid-19 pandemic was hitting much part of the world. The Leaders of the G20 countries vowed to “do whatever it takes to overcome the pandemic” and pledged to inject $5 trillion in fiscal spending into the global economy to blunt the economic impact of the coronavirus.

I think the leaders were united during this crisis, as evidenced in the joint statement following the videoconference, “We are strongly committed to presenting a united front against this common threat.” King Salman of Saudi Arabia, the current G20 chair, said in the opening remarks that the G20 should resume the normal flow of goods and services, including vital medical supplies, as soon as possible to help restore confidence in the global economy.

It is too early to tell whether such G20 efforts will be effective, but dire financial, economic, social, and public health challenges lie ahead for the international community even after the pandemic is brought under control.

– Before the G20 summit, the G7 summit was held, where joint measures to combat coronavirus were also agreed upon. Furthermore, the G7 countries said that China is hiding information about the coronavirus situation from the world community. How close to the truth these accusations are, in your opinion?

– The WHO sent a team of experts to China in February and concluded, based on their observations, that what they saw in China was consistent with what was provided by the Chinese government. So I do not think China was hiding the information or misinforming the public.

However, China was not transparent about the virus initially. Whistle-blowers were silenced and dissenting voices were crushed. If the Chinese government had taken resolute measures right after the virus was found, perhaps more lives could have been saved.

Wuhan was shut down on January 23, 2020 and the mobility of the whole nation was restricted afterwards. More than two months later, the situation in China is getting better, and life in many parts of China is beginning to return to normal.

It’s pointless to blame China now as the virus has spread to the most parts of the world. What did the rest of the world do after January 23?

Why didn’t the WHO declare a global pandemic sooner? If all governments had taken the outbreak more seriously and adopted more stringent measures to contain it, it may have not become so terrible now.

– How will coronavirus affect the economy of China and the USA? Can you give any numbers?

– It is hard to predict the exact impact of the coronavirus on Chinese and US economies in numbers now. We do not know how long this public health crisis will last, but there is no doubt that both economies will suffer tremendously.

It is impossible that China will be able to achieve its targeted annual growth rate of 5 or 6 percent since many factories are still closed and trade with other countries is significantly curtailed. Likewise, the US economy will probably experience something worse than the 2008 financial crisis. Some even worry that this may lead to a major recession, the severity of which may approach the Great Depression of the 1930s.

– How does coronavirus affect the global economy? How long do you think it will take to stabilize it?

– Given the interdependent nature of today’s global economy and given that all major economies are suffering from the pandemic, the outlook for a quick recovery is very slim. It will take at least a few years to stabilize the global economy.

– The leaders of some European countries expressed disappointment at the lack of European solidarity – including Italy, Spain, Serbia and others. Initially, the EU did not help its partners in the fight against coronavirus, and China and Russia came to the rescue. How will this affect the future of the European Union and international politics?

– Yes, the EU’s unity was in doubt as requests for help from its members were not answered, which opened the door for China and Russia to step in to play a role that other members of the EU should have played.

Of course, Brexit already dealt a heavy blow to the EU. So the EU as an international institution may undergo some significant changes in the near future. Meanwhile, China’s influence in Europe, especially Eastern and Southern Europe, will continue to grow. As a result, the power structure in Europe will fundamentally change, and EU-China relations will also be reshaped.

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