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WEBCAST: Geopolitical Implications of the Coronavirus for the Indo-Pacific

Date & Time

Mar. 19, 2020
2:00pm – 3:30pm ET


The novel coronavirus came from China, and countries across the Indo-Pacific have been on the front line of confronting this pandemic. In this online-only event, Wilson Center experts will examine how this pandemic is affecting the region's geopolitics, and what these changes may mean for the United States.

Selected Quotes

Robert Daly

“In the way that the United States and China have become involved in a mutual blame game, arguments about who is to blame for the coronavirus, arguments about what to call the coronavirus, clearly we are seeing the fruits now of the deep distrust that has been building up between the two great powers over the past 6 or so years.”

“With the coronavirus crisis, there has been a lot of attention in the United States on the degree to which we are dependent on China for our biopharmaceutical supply chain, and also for medical equipment. That need plays into an ongoing concern that was first addressed in the summer of 2017, when the Trump administration launched a study on domestic defense supply chain resilience… the idea is that American defense should not be reliant for any resources or technology on other countries generally, but on China in particular.”

“China, it seems, has entered the post-transmission phase of its own domestic coronavirus epidemic… We’re seeing no new cases reported in china.  They appear to have it largely under control, China is taking continued measures to limit movement between cities, it is quarantining foreigners who come into china, outside of Beijing, but it seems to have won the victory that Xi Jinping promised. That can still change.”

Shihoko Goto

“Both Taipei and Tokyo have been able to flatten the curve to a limited extent at least for now, but there is concern on both sides of whether they are going to be able to stay off the second wave of an outbreak.”

“Taiwan’s success has actually been clearly demonstrated with great public support from president Tsai Ing-wen. Her support has actually increased by around 12 percentage points according to the latest public opinion polls.  Her support is about 70% since the outbreak of the virus, and that is really a reflection of the public confidence in the steps that Taipei has taken to keep the spread in check…”

"As we know, Japan is the world’s 3rd largest economy, and it has seen its infection rate stabilizing. It currently has about 17,000 people who are infected of which about 730 were infected on the cruise ship.”

“The death rate is about 33 at the moment, which is remarkably low in a country where 25% of the population is actually over 65 years of age, which is seen as that very vulnerable demographic for the Coronavirus.”

Jean Lee

“Many of the new infections are cluster infections, clusters account for about 80% of the confirmed cases, and this is going to be very difficult for a country like South Korea which, like India, tends to be very social. Cities are very densely packed.”

“One thing about South Korea that we should note is that they are not new to epidemics. In 2015 they did have an outbreak of MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), and that was an opportunity for the government to assess whether they were taking the steps needed in order to track, trace, and clamp down on the spread of a virus.”

Michael Kugelman

“The message that New Delhi appears to be telegraphing is that India is a responsible and collaborative global player with the will and the capacity to spearhead cooperation with the international community to combat global threats.”

“The Indian government has suffered some considerable blows to its image in recent months due to a series of controversial policy moves, since its reelection in 2019…All of [which] has garnered a fair amount of negative international media coverage and criticism from political leaders around the world who fear the Indian government is taking the country in an authoritarian direction…And so, the Indian government’s moves in response to coronavirus suggest a desire to recoup some of the goodwill and perhaps even moral credibility that it has lost in the international community.”

“India has some of the most densely populated cities in the world—Chennai, Kolkata—these are very densely populated cities. Social distancing is very difficult to get to happen, much less impose. And there are certainly a number of considerable constraints in the health infrastructure or health institutions…The Indian government claims that there has not been any community spread of coronavirus in India. Again, that seems a bit surprising; it’s perhaps a bit premature to make that comment, but indeed, I imagine the numbers could be higher. I imagine they will go up.”

Prashanth Parameswaran

“The big variable that we really don’t know a whole lot about how this is going to play out, but it’s very important, is how are some of these lesser developed countries are going to respond with resource constraints. So, Myanmar is a particular source of concern. There were no test kits at all that were available in Myanmar; officials were saying this publicly as of a few weeks ago. And so, I suspect that as the testing takes place in the next few weeks, we could see some of these numbers change over time.”

“My understanding is that ASEAN and China have agreed to hold a sort of “lessons learned” meetings after this global pandemic subsides to see how they can further cooperation in this regard, but that, I think, is one of the remaining questions to watch because Southeast Asia is really ground zero in the competition between the United States and China. So, I think really the jury is still out about how Southeast Asia responds with respect to these two big powers moving forward.”

“A lot of these Southeast Asian countries are externally dependent and export-dependent on several major economies. But a lot of times now, in addition to China, if this is a global pandemic we’re talking about, if they are relying on investment from the United States, you have the United States affected now. [For] a lot of them a major partner is the European Union, but Europe is affected now as well. So, when you have so many sources of problems from so many different regions of the world, you really don’t have a lot of other sources of growth to turn in to.”


Hosted By

Indo-Pacific Program

The Indo-Pacific Program promotes policy debate and intellectual discussions on US interests in the Asia-Pacific as well as political, economic, security, and social issues relating to the world’s most populous and economically dynamic region.   Read more

Hyundai Motor-Korea Foundation Center for Korean History and Public Policy

The Center for Korean History and Public Policy was established in 2015 with the generous support of the Hyundai Motor Company and the Korea Foundation to provide a coherent, long-term platform for improving historical understanding of Korea and informing the public policy debate on the Korean peninsula in the United States and beyond.  Read more

Kissinger Institute on China and the United States

The Kissinger Institute works to ensure that China policy serves American long-term interests and is founded in understanding of historical and cultural factors in bilateral relations and in accurate assessment of the aspirations of China’s government and people.  Read more

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