And the winner is… China?

In a pandemic there are usually no winners or losers (only losers). But the EU, of all countries, has elevated the corona crisis to a systemic competition and has positioned itself against China. The shot will backfire.

When the pandemic spread to Europe in the winter of 2020, the EU’s grandees gave the all-clear at first: everything was under control and it could not be as bad as in China. Even trade and transport were allowed to continue unperturbed.

When Europe became the epicentre, EU citizens became increasingly nervous. Overnight, the EU went from helping the seemingly incompetent Chinese to being a recipient of aid. The tone became irritating.

When China, for its part, flew aid to Europe, and Italy was celebrating this, there was suddenly talk of “propaganda war”, “infodemia” and “fake news” from Beijing. Even the Foreign Service intervened.

But they were still sitting on their high horses. The free West could and would fight a pandemic better and more efficiently than a communist dictatorship, it was said in Brussels and Berlin. Competition between systems had begun.

That was a mistake, as was soon to become clear. For it was above all the USA that proved to be the system rival in the pandemic. US President Trump banned travel within the Schengen area and refused a global corona initiative.

China, on the other hand, is willing to cooperate on cooperation in the World Health Organisation (WHO) and on possible corona vaccines.

Now, in the “second wave”, things are getting really bad. While the EU lags behind the USA in terms of new infections, China is showing off with fresh growth – the pandemic seems to have been largely defeated in China.

As a matter of urgency, politicians and business representatives in Berlin concede defeat in the “contest of systems” against China, as reported by “German Foreign Policy”.

Siemens boss Kaeser judges that it is becoming apparent “that the Chinese system was superior to Western systems in terms of crisis management”.

And that is not only due to authoritarian structures and total surveillance via apps, as is often claimed. Many Corona regulations – such as the mouthguard – are voluntarily observed, notes “Cicero” self-critically.

China is also proving to be economically superior. While the EU is sinking into the deepest recession in its history, the economy in the Middle Kingdom is already picking up noticeably.

China will gain in economic importance through Corona, says IfW boss Felbermayr. The USA and the EU are falling further behind:

By the end of 2021 America will be where it was before the crisis. The euro zone is likely to be somewhat smaller in terms of economic output and China will be ten percent larger than before the crisis. This means that in these two years the country is now catching up with the advanced economies in even greater strides and gaining in importance – both economically and politically.

Source: Rhein-Neckar newspaper

Does this mean that Europe has lost the “war” against Corona? No, I would not go that far. Germany is doing comparatively well – not least thanks to its close ties with China.

And the EU would be well advised to expand cooperation with China instead of letting the USA drag you into a trade war. Berlin has obviously understood this, and Chancellor Merkel continues to focus on cooperation.

In Brussels, on the other hand, it looks as if the EU could let itself be pulled in front of the US cart by a misunderstood geopolitics. In any case, the “info-war” of recent months does not bode well…

Translated with (free version). The original version (In German) is here