The Coronavirus Pandemic has given way to a changing world order, and the biggest lesson for all major players in the world is that economic and trading ties can longer be at crossroads with security and strategic ties. The democratic, liberal world has realised how their extensive economic ties with China are incongruent with their strategic interests.
Thus, there is a concerted effort to reshape the world order and to kick China out of global supply chains. The biggest intelligence network of the world- Five Eyes alliance which consists of the US, Canada, Australia, the UK and New Zealand has decided to end their reliance on China in terms of trade ties, and bring their strategic interests in sync with their trade ties.
Several leaders of the Five Eyes have confirmed that they have decided to use the alliance for economic purposes as well, and therefore they are inching towards an agreement that will see these five countries discuss the path out of the COVID-19 Pandemic. The Five Eyes countries want to promote a deep relationship among themselves, thus edging out China from their trading ties.
This could be the single biggest attempt to push China out of the supply chains and cut the exports-based economy to size. This is why there is also an attempt to make the group more holistic and bring in countries that will play a crucial role in re-formulating supply chains.
The United States Congress has accordingly sought to add three countries to the group- Japan, South Korea and India. US President Donald Trump wants to bring the entire democratic, liberal world as the Five Eyes Intelligence Network turns into something inherently different from a mere strategic network.
Beijing is trying to use its economic heft to shape Australia’s behaviour amidst Morrison government’s demands for an international probe into the Wuhan Institute of Virology from where the Coronavirus originated.
Canberra is over-dependent on China for its exports, and enjoys a massive trade surplus over the Dragon. This is why China has been looking to punish Scott Morrison by slapping steep tariffs on Barley and meat imports from down under.
Australia exports 595 different commodities to China, and amidst the ongoing Pandemic it has realised the perils of undiversified import markets. New Zealand too is overly dependent on China, as its biggest export market. New Zealand exports to the tune of 20.1 billion US dollars to China. Exports to China form 23 per cent of New Zealand’s exports.
The United States has, of course, been engaged in endless tussles with China- US President Donald Trump’s foreign policy thrust is to contain Chinese influence around the world and to ensure that the country doesn’t become an ambitious Superpower. The irresponsible Asian giant cannot be allowed to grow any bigger than it already is.
The US itself needs to re-shape its supply chains away from China. Notwithstanding Trump’s trade wars with China, Beijing continues to enjoy a huge trade surplus of 295.3 billion over the United States.
As for the United Kingdom, the country has come to realise the perils of over-dependence on China in terms of medical and health imports. The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has therefore planned “Project Defend” wherein civil servants have been asked to end Britain’s reliance on China for imports of medical supplies and other strategic goods.
Boris Johnson has thus realised that economic ties need to be synced with London’s strategic interests, otherwise the Dragon will keep making inroads.
Such has been the democratic world’s dependence on trade ties with China that the country has also become Canada’s second-biggest trade partner.
The liberal world has traded extensively with China, and especially the Western world has allowed China to become the hegemon that it has become. But the Wuhan virus has unmasked Beijing. It has emerged as a bully that secretly buys out international institutions in order to expand influence, even if that means exposing the entire human race to a deadly contagion.
If the world doesn’t change now, China will upend the existing US-led world order. “Beijing Consensus” and the Dragon’s autocratic regime will start watering down the rules-based global order that has led the planet since the end of the Second World War.
Economic ties have come to be defined more and more by strategic interests, and therefore the Five Eyes countries have realised that they must strengthen the liberal, democratic world instead of playing into Beijing’s hands.