“Covid-19 is unlikely to alter the course of world politics in favor of China” – Prof. Joseph S. Nye Jr.


Prof. Joseph S. Nye Jr., is a University Distinguished Service Professor, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. He has a Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard University. He served as the United States Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs from 1994 to 1995. He is one of the most renowned International Relations scholars in the world and was named by Foreign Policy in 2011 as one of the top 100 Global Thinkers. He has published fourteen academic books and more than 200 articles in professional and policy journals. Below is a short interview given by Prof. Nye for NEPAL FIRST on the impact of Covid-19 on world politics.

What will be the impact of novel coronavirus pandemic in world politics?

Many pundits have predicted the end of an era of globalization that has flourished under U.S. leadership since the end of the Second World War. However, I believe that globalization is unlikely to die away in spite of effects of Covid-19 on global economy. World leaders should work towards enhancing cooperation through different forms of frameworks. Affluent states should realize that recurrent waves of the disease will not only affect the poor states but will have an impact on them too.

Will this crisis reduce influence of the United States in the world and lead to China’s rise as the global leader?

Some have viewed that the current crisis will turn out to be a geopolitical turning point at which China will surpass the United States as a global power. However, I believe that it is a far-fetched prediction. China’s economic growth rate and exports have declined entering into the crisis. The response to Covid-19 has definitely hurt the reputational power of the US, but China’s soft power capabilities are not in a position to overwhelm that of the US. China is also way behind the US in terms of hard power capabilities.

Geography is one of the most important determinants of foreign policy. While the US is bordered by friendly states, China is embroiled in territorial disputes with many of its neighbors. In the energy sector, the US has become a net exporter whereas China is dependent on oil imports that need to pass through geopolitically sensitive regions of the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean where the US has naval supremacy. The US will continue to remain at the forefront of wide-ranging technological advancements and higher education as compared to China. In terms of demography, the US workforce is in a growing trend while it is in a decline in China. Instead of adopting misguided policy options, the US should place faith on international institutions and set up a massive Covid-19 response fund to lead the global fight against the pandemic.

About the author

Nepal Forum of International Relations Studies (NEPAL FIRST) is a Kathmandu-based independent, not-for-profit and non partisan organization in the field of International Relations that focuses on issues related to Nepal’s foreign policy and diplomacy.

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4 Responses
  1. srijanabastola@gmail.com'
    Srijana Bastola

    Lucid analysis, where one of the most significant type of power should be looked upon in order to lead world politics , “The response to Covid-19 has definitely hurt the reputational power of the US, but China’s soft power capabilities are not in a position to overwhelm that of the US. China is also way behind the US in terms of hard power capabilities.”

  2. dipygrg@hotmail.com'
    Dipak K Gurung

    Nobody likes to give up power that easily.
    Now that the vulnerability of the nationas are exposed we have to be more concerned about the biological weapons falling into wrong hands.
    There is now more need for cooperation between the govts than before.

  3. rkdhakal@hotmail.com'
    Ram Babu Dhakal

    Very precisely stated by Prof Nye. However, South Asia +China will still have a great deal of influence in shaping policy design of the USA in the region, but that was not the case in the past.

  4. sambins@gmail.com'
    Shambhu Ram

    Nepal first by remaining at the last of the spectrum of intellect…in whose favor is difficult to say but COVID 19 is forcing humanity to change or ultimately perish…outdated doctrines can neither explain nor resolve many problems facing the new world experiencing new dynamics of time and technolgy

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