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The Coming Post-COVID Anarchy

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The Coming Post-COVID Anarchy

The Pandemic Bodes Ill for Both American and Chinese Power – and for the Global Order

Foreign Affairs,

5 min read
3 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Will the fallout from COVID-19 push the international order into lawlessness?

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  • Controversial
  • Concrete Examples
  • Engaging


Although the world faces a common threat in the form of the deadly COVID-19 virus, the pandemic has left the international community more divided than before. This is especially true for the world’s two most powerful countries: the United States and China. Former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd lays out the possible international implications of the virus’s aftermath in an article for Foreign Affairs. The article offers an informative glimpse at where America, China and the world at large may find themselves, post-pandemic – and how to maintain international peace and order.


The COVID-19 pandemic will leave both China and the United States weaker than before.

The COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences will undermine China and the United States’ standing in the world, in terms of their hard and soft power capabilities. Both countries will see their economic clout diminish. China will likely see zero economic growth in 2020 because of decreased economic activity at home, as well as disruptions in international trade. China’s mushrooming debt-to-GDP ratio will probably force Beijing to cut public sector spending in areas like education, technology and defense. Meanwhile, the United States will see its economy shrink by between 6% and 14% and its public debt rise to wartime levels, making it increasingly difficult for the federal government to support America’s faltering economy through stimulus spending. The United States may also need to cut back on other types of public spending...

About the Author

Kevin Rudd is former Prime Minister of Australia and President of the Asia Society Policy Institute in New York.

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