Geopolitics, Geoeconomics and Techno-nationalism are the next big things for global leaders to fight over. But in a post-COVID era, journalists from all over the world face a new challenge of resisting pressures from their own government on these three subjects so they can continue to report as objectively as possible.
“I think it’s time to return gradually to the usual patterns of life – there’s no need to be terrified.”
This sentence is from a column published on 11 February 2020 in NoCut News, a daily newspaper run by South Korea’s Christian Broadcasting Service (CBS). Even though the sentiment is prefaced with the caveat “although we should take serious preventive actions”, it implies a return to the comfortable normality of “pre-COVID-19” from the unsettling “now”. And it is a wish with which many will agree.
But according to a recent column by Haim Israel, managing-director of research at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, “the coronavirus is not just a temporary crisis; it’s a permanent disruptor. It’s one of those rare events in history that will completely reshape geopolitics, societies and markets.”
There have been lots of conspiracy theories around COVID-19, but none of them have survived scrutiny. The world has just been caught by surprise as the microscopic SARS-CoV-2 virus has had such a macro, indeed global, impact on Geopolitics, Geoeconomics and Techno-nationalism for approximately a year and five months. At the same time, Geopolitics, Geoeconomics and Techno-nationalism have been described by Moon Chung-in, chairman of the Sejong Institute – a celebrated South Korean think-tank – as the three major causes for tensions between the US and China.
Even though COVID-19 broke out in China, it became much more rampant in the United States, with several massive outbreaks. China – as well as Vietnam and other authoritarian states – could prevent the infection spreading whereas in Europe, which lacks a resident registration system and is bound with laws protecting people’s freedom of expression, lockdowns are still needed because of ongoing outbreaks caused, some believe, by protests against being locked down.
The virus, therefore, seems to have dealt a serious blow to the high standards of liberty and democracy on which the West so prides itself, while authoritarian regimes proved their greater competence in curbing the spread of infection. And the fact that the country where the virus started (China) and the country which suffered the worst effects of the virus (the US) are in a state of fierce rivalry remind us of how close the link is between the micro and macro worlds.
First, where Geopolitics are concerned, the race is on over who should control the Eurasian continent and the Pacific Rim, including the Indo-Pacific region. The US and China are locked in a strategic arms race, and their points of conflict at present are the Taiwan Strait, the South China Sea, the East China Sea, and the Korean peninsula.