When the US’ status as a global leader under Donald Trump was threatened by China’s growth, the conflicts between the two countries opened on different fronts including technology, economy, defense, and diplomatic clout.
America has seen a stark change in its foreign policies under President Donald Trump including a hard-line approach to China, in comparison to previous administrations that maintained a softer approach and relied on allyship.
In unprecedented times, where the world is brought to its knees by the COVID-19 pandemic, the US policy has continuously evolved from leading the world through allyship and cooperation to “America first” under Donald Trump.
Analysts believe that Beijing is taking advantage of this and is trying to establish itself as the world leader. In May, Trump announced the US’ withdrawal from the World Health Organisation (WHO), accusing it of being under China’s control.
Despite calls for reconsideration from the European allies and domestic leaders, Trump moved ahead with his decision by “redirecting American resources”.
On the other hand, Beijing, after suffering a global backlash over allegations of mishandling of the COVID-19, that was originated in Wuhan, joined the biggest vaccine alliance, COVAX.
It is a ground-breaking global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.
Through initiatives like COVAX, Beijing is effectively establishing itself as a responsible global leader through “mask diplomacy”. China has sent aid to fight the virus to several countries developing allyship. It has sent medical supplies and equipment to Latin American and European nations, besides giving millions of dollars in donations to the WHO.
According to media reports, Beijing sent doctors to Iran and Italy, building a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) laboratory in Iraq to increase the country’s coronavirus testing capacity, donating test kits to the Philippines, and sending protective equipment to Pakistan and France.
China is successfully on the path of fixing its damaged image while America is still moving into isolation.
The Pew Research survey showed that America’s image has declined over the past year among many key allies and partners. While the ratings for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping were “overwhelmingly negative,” Trump ranked even worse than both of them.
Former Vice President and Democrat Presidential candidate for 2020, Joe Biden slammed Trump’s “America First” policy.
“We’re more isolated in the world than we’ve ever been. America First has made America alone,” Biden said in an interview with ABC News. [Iran is] “closer to having enough nuclear material to build a bomb,” he added, while “North Korea has more bombs and missiles available to it” and China is “making moves.” This means the US is “less secure than we’ve been,” Biden said.
With the US Presidential election closing in, Trump is lagging in the race behind Joe Biden. However, it may take days before the results are announced.
Experts believe that Trump’s foreign strategies have failed to work for American voters. Even his lukewarm approach in handling the COVID-19 has resulted in the US with the most number of infections in the world.
“Historically, the US has taken comparable situations as opportunities to demonstrate leadership, utilizing American scientific ingenuity, military might, and economic power to fortify allies and send signals of unity to adversaries,” explained Farah N. Jan, Ph.D., an international relations lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania.
“Without the US efforts, the past health crises like the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, Coronavirus, Zika virus, and Ebola virus would have resulted in major catastrophes.”
She added that in early May, the United States embarked on Operation Warp Speed to secure the coronavirus vaccine for Americans as early as possible, eschewing any international cooperation.
Withdrawl from the guardian of Public Health, WHO, marked “a sharp departure from past U.S. collaboration and cooperation efforts during global catastrophes.”
China seized this opportunity that it has been looking for and may well now establish itself as a leader in the post-Covid world unless the new administration alters the American foreign policy, returning to its roots of cooperation and allyship.