International relations

There is no Russia-China axis

You should be careful what you wish for, because you might just get it, so the old cliché goes. In diplomacy at the moment, it seems you should be careful of the threats you prepare for, because you may end up producing them. There is a growing trend in the West towards treating Russia and China as some single, threatening ‘Dragonbear’ (a reference to the two countries’ national animals). This underrates the very real tensions between Moscow and Beijing, but risks pushing them even closer together. The most recent case in point was Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg’s interview in the Financial Times, in which he criticised ‘this whole idea that we

The West is failing to rise to the challenge of coronavirus

Having apparently shaken off the first phase of the coronavirus pandemic, the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda machine is now in full swing. One of the more preposterous conspiracy theories they are peddling is that the spread of the disease was a deliberate attempt at subterfuge from the American government. As in the middle of the tragic Aids epidemic in the 1980s, geopolitical conspiracy theories are running rife, and overwhelmed national governments are desperate to find someone to blame for the crisis. The notion that the United States somehow contrived to unleash such a contagious and pernicious virus on its economic rival, however, is simply absurd. In a globalised world, with

How coronavirus could change the global order

As much as it is a threat, Coronavirus is also an opportunity. This clear demonstration of the chaos that the unseen can cause both advanced and developing nations gives global leaders the chance to reset positions and behaviour. In Coronavirus and Sars, China has been at the epicentre of genuinely life-changing diseases. The circumstances in which these illnesses developed are completely at odds with the animal welfare and health and safety regulations common in most developed nations. Western diplomacy might, if used judiciously, change Chinese behaviour while Beijing is on the defensive The trade in snakes, pangolins, bats and other wild animals has been outlawed by the Chinese authorities. Beijing has