As vaccination and control of the COVID-19 pandemic slowly spread, China appears to be more resilient in the face of the epidemic than the West, at least on the surface.
In 2020, China has smartly moved away from its initial mistakes in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, as the government gains more support from its citizens despite the strict measures it has taken to quell the spread of the virus.
A recent study funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research clarified this and found that “Chinese citizens are very satisfied with the performance of their national government during the epidemic.” This echoes previous studies of the epidemic, which show that ordinary citizens have great confidence in the leadership of the Communist Party and the one-party system.
Chinese citizens’ support for the government gained more support at home as economic growth returned to 90% from pre-pandemic levels. In fact, in two sessions for China 2021, Prime Minister Li Keqiang announced in his government work report for March that economic growth will exceed 6% in 2021, an economic boom compared to what the United States and Europe are likely to experience as it is. still. Fight the COVID-19 crisis.
However, the epidemic has accelerated many pre-existing problems in both China and the Indo-Pacific region. China’s economic recovery has been mixed and driven by a broad response to fiscal policy. Consumption figures are low compared to 2019; The unemployment rate is rising. The indebtedness of governments, businesses, and households is high compared to pre-pandemic levels.
The exacerbation of these indicators due to the emerging corona virus is the American policy that emerged during the Trump administration and continued in the Biden administration. The trade war was the most influential, limiting access to sensitive technologies and adding tariffs on products exported from China. This amounts to downward pressure in the Chinese economy and discourages non-Chinese companies from establishing their business in China.
The Chinese government responded with a dual trade strategy to boost domestic consumption while restoring its relationship with the global economy. As part of this strategy, China aims to build the semiconductor industry, along with related technologies, to reduce its dependence on the United States and its allies such as Taiwan, Japan and South Korea.
This is a challenge as major suppliers such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company are hired to build a research center in Japan and the US to intensify talks with Taiwan to secure the supply chain.
Thanks to structural issues related to China’s demographic change and the increasing role of state-owned enterprises, the downward pressure on the Chinese economy will likely continue to slow economic growth, even as China enjoys an economic boost after COVID-19.
This downward pressure is exacerbated by broader trends in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. These include selective supply chain diversification, growing distrust of Beijing’s long-term intentions and the convergence of like-minded nations to restrict China’s behavior.
In 2020, China’s reputation will be greatly weakened by assertive behavior across the region and what opponents believe is the goal and achievement of “wolf warrior diplomacy.” The 2020 survey also showed that China’s unfavorable rankings are at record highs.
Looking at the survey alone, we can look at it, but the results are also reflected in the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies’ The State of Southeast Asia: 2021 Survey Report, The State of Southeast Asia: Survey Report 2021 ‘and’ Asia Energy Index. Affiliated with the Lui Institute, as China recorded low confidence and soft power.
With the local legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party granting this tenacity and the celebration of the centenary of the party’s birth this year, stability in its geopolitical environment remains unlikely. This means that such extremely unfavorable classifications will continue into 2021 and beyond.
Beijing’s use of economic coercion, its assertive geopolitical behavior, and wolf-warrior diplomacy that were evident during the pandemic – particularly those seen alongside long-term behavior in the Indo-Pacific – have sharpened views of China’s intentions in the region.
As a result, the quadripartite, or “quadrilateral” security dialogue has become more coherent, with India becoming the least active member in the past and an enthusiastic participant in the nascent enterprise.
Countries outside the Quartet, such as Canada, have also participated in the latest Sea Dragon 21 submarine exercise. Even countries as far away as Germany, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom have taken more proactive stances in the Indian and Pacific Oceans with China in mind.
The signing of the Flexible Supply Chain Initiative in September 2020 and Japan’s additional budget in April 2020 to support supply chain diversification and support for Japanese companies are clear evidence that countries see the need to diversify the global manufacturing network, away from a network dominated by only one economy.
This shift is linked to geopolitics, profitability, and the recognition that another COVID-19 shock to one global manufacturing network poses a grave risk.
For China, the COVID-19 pandemic was one step forward and two steps back. It has allowed China to temporarily consolidate its position on its periphery with a firm foreign policy, while it has gained valuable political capital at home through its response to the Coronavirus and economic recovery. However, the initial mismanagement of fascism and problematic diplomacy made China more isolated internationally and strengthened like-minded countries against its behavior.
In 2021 and beyond, these external pressures will only add to the downward pressure on the Chinese economy, causing long-term damage.
Stephen Nagy is a senior associate professor at the International Christian University in Tokyo, a fellow of the Canadian Institute of Global Affairs and a visiting fellow at the Japan Institute of International Affairs. This comment was first posted by the Asia Pacific Policy Association Policy Forum.
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