Gideon Rachman: How the Pandemic Might Shift the Global Balance of Power
In Conversation with Andrew Keen on the Keen On
The coronavirus pandemic is dramatically disrupting not only our daily lives but society itself. This show features conversations with some of the world’s leading thinkers and writers about the deeper economic, political, and technological consequences of the pandemic. It’s our new daily podcast trying to make longterm sense out of the chaos of today’s global crisis.
On today’s episode, Gideon Rachman, chief foreign affairs commentator for the Financial Times and author of Easternization: Asia’s Rise and America’s Decline from Obama to Trump and Beyond, discusses the ways in which the pandemic might shift the global balance of power between the United States and China.
From the episode:
Gideon Rachman: I think for the moment, everybody is very, very internally focused, partly because we can’t travel, but also because we’re all facing national emergencies, which are taking slightly different shapes. But I think that even before the pandemic hit, there was a rather belated realization in the UK and in Europe as a whole that the rise of China posed all sorts of questions about geopolitics. Now, that may seem incredibly naive that people haven’t thought about that, but, you know, the US, because it’s a superpower and has always been on the alert for potential challenges, was thinking about what the rise of China meant while countries like Australia, India, which were much closer to hand.
In Britain, I think it was only really coming into focus in the past year with the debate about what way should we allow a Chinese telecoms firm to build 5G network. But now the pandemic has arrived in a funny way. It has sharpened the debate even in Europe, because obviously it originated in China and the nature of the Chinese government and what it means to have a more powerful China, whether Chinese authoritarianism actually does affect us in indirect ways. All of that is becoming a much hotter topic of conversation.
Equally, if you look at the performance of President Trump, the idea that one can trust the United States, both in terms of its judgment on policy and as a reliable partner at times of crisis, has been undermined again. So it’s not all going one way at all.
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Gideon Rachman is chief foreign affairs commentator for the Financial Times. He joined the FT in 2006, after 15 years at The Economist, where he served as a correspondent in Washington D.C., Brussels, and Bangkok. In 2010 Rachman published his first book, Zero Sum World, which predicted the rise in international political tensions and turmoil that followed the global financial crisis. In 2016, Rachman won the Orwell Prize, Britain’s leading award for political writing. He was also named Commentator of the year at the European Press Prize, known as the “European Pulitzers.”