The global coronavirus pandemic is stoking geopolitical tensions and creating enormous upheaval in the sphere of international relations. Which are the trends that we should be looking out for and what are the likely implications for geopolitics over the coming period?
Tensions between the United States and China are evident in the mutually heated attacks over the origins and spread of the virus, even as they struggle to secure a deal that could unwind tit-for-tat trade tariffs. Within Europe, arguments between nations over PPE and problems with financing surging government debts have exacerbated political tensions within the EU and hint at the emergence of new alliances. Then throw into the mix slumping demand for oil and minerals -impacting differentially across the US, Russia, Middle East and Africa – migration challenges posed in populous parts of Asia and Africa and the upcoming American elections. Many worry the outcome is a new and unpredictable world order in which nations pull apart in the face of global challenges.
What lessons should we draw from the pandemic response? Is China turning from a ‘status quo’ power to one that will become more disruptive and active in pursuit of global influence? To what extent will the international order and its institutions continue to fray? Are we seeing the return of the nation state, or will realpolitik in the face of the pandemic likely encourage renewal of cooperation and new institutions? What is the likely impact of the inevitable economic restructuring? In short, where next for geopolitics – and is the future one of international disorder?
In association with the AoI Economy Forum.
Dr Philip Cunliffe
senior lecturer in politics and international relations, University of Kent; author, Cosmopolitan Dystopia: international intervention and the failure of the West; co-founder, The Full Brexit
former foreign correspondent in Moscow, Paris and Washington; special correspondent in China; writer and broadcaster
Lord Maurice Glasman
Labour life peer; director, the Common Good Foundation; author, Unnecessary Suffering: Managing Market Utopia
director, Europe, The Economist Intelligence Unit; editor, The EIU Democracy Index
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