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The Impact of COVID-19 on the New World Order

On Tuesday, April 28, the online meeting of the project “Contemporary Area Studies” organized by the School of International Regional Studies of the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, HSE University hosted the lecture “The Impact of COVID-19 on the New World Order” from Dr. Samir Saran, President of the Observer Research Foundation (ORF).

The welcoming speech was given by the organiser of the meeting, Professor Sergey A. Karaganov, Dean of the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs of HSE University, that thanked Dr. Saran for his interest in the project. 

The invited experts were Olga Solodkova, Associate Professor at the HSE Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs; Sergey Lunev, Professor at the HSE University and MGIMO; Andrey Karneev, Head of the School of Asian Studies HSE; Aleksey Kupriyanov, Senior Research Associate of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations of RAS and Tatyana Shaumyan, the Head of the Centre for Indian Studies of RAS.

            Dr. Saran started his lecture with defining the world order and explaining to the participants that instead of trying to understand the “order”, the scientists should study so-called “World Chaos”. Looking at this issue from historical perspective, the expert noted that after the World War 2 the world was divided into spheres of influence of two winners: the US and the USSR that saw as their primary goal to prevent the further conflicts. However, with the beginning of the new century, the USSR ceased to exist and new regional players appeared, challenging the role of the US. The world initially became multipolar after the economic crisis of 2008 and the rise of BRICS.

            In 2020 we can already observe the beginning of a new age, where there is no more multilateralism and when the American influence is over, that the new regional players start to appear with China as the most influential one. Though, China is not yet a superpower, it has good relations with many countries, developed infrastructure, business and investment opportunities, but no developed military, as opposed to another great player, Russia, that has great military power while being a modest economic actor.

            The current pandemic situation has evoked the range of issues. First of all, the crisis after pandemic will even progress of the last 7-8 decades, especially with regard to globalisation, when the countries tend to turn to their own identities and tribalism. Second, the world will observe the failure of international institutions such as the UN, that could have predicted, stopped, and could have been managing the situation with COVID-19, but they have not and therefore need to be retired or reformed. The countries will find themselves in the situation, similar to the post-war period, in the need of creating new institutions and finding new global leaders. Third, the globalisation is challenged while it is no more about the expansion of borders, but about the flow of data, trade, e-commerce, bits and bytes, and thus could be stopped in one click.

            The expert also proposed to the participants several possible solutions to the situation. He tends to think that while the large institutions are no longer able to satisfy the demands of the countries, the smaller groupings, such as BRICS or ASEAN would be more efficient. The other issue is the creation of the political architecture in Asia, similar to the EU in the structure of government with the new leader after the US. To do so, Asian countries need to get rid of American economic order, where dollar is a single and the most important unit, which is used as the political tool in the negotiation process, and to create a new currency and accordingly a new financial system.

            The expert sees China as the next potential leader in the Region, though explaining, that while the US has its drawbacks it is still the democratic country, while the transparency of Chinese politics is regularly questioned.

            In his closing comments Dr. Saran paid a great attention to the role of Russia and its interests and ambitions in BRICS. He also noticed the concept of Greater Eurasia that can now be used to create the new regional alliance.

Video is available to the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H58tV1WbdiQ&feature=youtu.be