Research and Opinion

Dr. Jasna Plevnik for China- CEEC Think Tanks Network's Report on Covid-19 and the world


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China- CEEC Think Tanks Network, which acts as an academic support for the development of cooperation between China and 17 Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC), regularly publishes reports, analyses and opinions on the situation in the countries that  cooperate in the framework of "17 plus 1" cooperation with aims of deepening cooperation and understanding  circumstances of a deep health crisis that hit the world. The network invited Dr Jasna Plevnik, President of the Geoeconomic Forum from Croatia that operates within this platform since its establishment, to give a comment on the impact of the epidemic on Europe and the world. The text in Chinese was published in Report No. 18, April 2-April 3, 2020) and it is available, in full, at the link:


Dr. Jasna Plevnik, Geopolitics cannot solve the global health crisis

The global health crisis will have consequences for the world though it is difficult to understand now, in which direction it will change international relations because the Covid-19 is too close to us.

Global sanitary crisis might affect the international relations positively moving global powers relations deeper into multilateralism.

Unfortunately, the United States has become the first nation with more than 200,000 Covid-19 cases and that sad situation could challenge the Unites States to reform its 2017 global policy that has brought hard unilateralism in its global values, and behaviour in global institutions. The US administration is no longer talking about the "Chinese virus", and the turning point in US-China relations could not come from geopolitical competition but from interest - to lead coordinated action in the fight against pandemic.

What can be seen at first glance is the world missing global leadership and a vision of a common future for humanity. The failure of the US to take the lead in the current situation was also noted, unlike China whose President Xi Jinping spoke with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Guterres on China's global vision for the world Community of Human Destiny launched in 2017.China also proposed the "Road to Healthy Silk" to Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte – based on  Beijing's BRI infrastructure scheme - as a way to boost confidence and cooperation against the 'common human enemy'.

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The European Union still lacks a common response to this kind of crisis, which cannot be resolved nationally. The European Union by itself did not remain loyal to its standards of solidarity. France and Germany took the „first me” approach for a moment, but the damage has already been done.

Italy, Spain, Serbia and Greece speak publicly about a lack of solidarity from the European Union.

It is useful for the future of the EU that French President Emmanuel Macron has recognized the dangers posed by the loss of confidence in the EU's power in the context of a pandemic and called for more power to be given to the European Commission.

The virus has raised the issue of the responsibility of the G7 and G20 countries to shape a fast-global response to the current disaster.

China, the world's second economy, is not a member of G-7 intergovernmental organization, but is part of the G20, which took into account China's experience in the fight against coronaviruses at its virtual summit held in late March. During the 2008 global financial crisis, China played a key role in stabilizing the global economy.

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The curtain slipped and revealed that the world also lacked more efficient international institutions capable to offer new measures and initiatives to respond on this new crisis which was not generated by economic failure.

Not only does the IMF not yet offer some innovative financial instruments and programs to help countries in need of its assistance, but these days it has refused to help with urgent loans to Iran and Venezuela to help them to tackle the pandemic, pushing those countries deeper into health crisis. Iran has a high mortality rate of Covid-19, and its health infrastructure has been destroyed by years of sanctions.

The WHO, which has key roles in global public health governance, should seek the IMF to help Iran and Venezuela, and from America to lift sanctions on them. The European Union should lift sanctions on Russia. These countries must be able to count on all the international assistance in the time of “worst health crisis” as IMF permanently warns. 

If states had to halt their economies, then the rating agency should also be halted. Moody downgraded South Africa's credit rating to junk status amid a coronavirus pandemic.

Although this crisis shows that it cannot be addressed by geopolitics, the propaganda of "dangerous China" has been revived and adapted itself to current sanitary crisis claiming Chinese donation of masks, protective equipment, medical aid will be paid by strengthening of China's influence in Europe. In addition, there were rumours that defective "Chinese masks" have arrived in Belgium. The Flemish Health Agency (Vlaams Agentschap Zorg en Gezondheid) has discovered that the masks received are not from China, but from Colombia.

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The crisis has potential to encourage the EU, China, the United States and other global powers to build new kind of alliances and modernise the international system building it less dependent on power politics pattern. It may appear impossible within the coordinates in the current world but that was said for bipolar system too.