International Politics of COVID-19 and Global Governance
[Sejong Policy Brief] No. 2020-04
Dr. LEE Sang Hyun
Senior Research Fellow,
Dept. of Security Strategy Studies,
The Sejong Institute
□ Amid the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic, it appears the U.S. and European nations, which have been considered developed countries, suffer greater damage than other Asian countries, which seem to have relatively well responded.
□ Considering major states’ responses to the COVID-19, following three factors created differences.
❍ First, governance capacity (democracy, freedom of press, disclosure of information and transparency)
❍ Second, the level of public healthcare system (the level of medical service, health insurance)
❍ Third, the ability of leadership to make judgments and decisions (the importance of timely responses)
□ Changes in International Politics Brought by COVID-19 Pandemic
① Rising anti-globalization sentiment; Deepening anti-immigrant sentiment
② Weakening of global leadership due to the U.S.-China conflict; Acceleration toward the post-G2 era
③ The retreat of western supremacy
④ Acceleration of regime meltdown phenomenon
⑤ The possibility of global depression due to the economic downturn
⑥ Fear of hunger pandemic
⑦ Return of state or the emergence of “big brother” government
□ Statements for the Future Improvement of Global Governance
❍ Call for the cooperation between the U.S. and China: The central axis of the global effort to overcome the COVID-19 crisis is the U.S.-China cooperation, but the two states are now eager to slander and pass the buck to each other. As a result, the U.S.-China relations is further deteriorating.
❍ Recognition of the importance of multilateralism followed by specific measures: It is clear that the only effective response to the virus relies on multilateralism.
❍ Improvement of international system: It is necessary to expand cooperation for institutional improvements beyond criticism of WHO (World Health Organization).
❍ Necessity of global actions to raise awareness of the newly emerging security issues as crucial national security issues
□ Issues That South Korea Needs to Consider for Its Policy Measures
❍ As the U.S.-China conflict heats up, South Korea needs to establish the directions of its national strategy: Preparing for the aggravation of the U.S.-China trade war and the possibility of decoupling
❍ Active participation in the establishment of global governance for crisis management with the examination of the role of middle power states
❍ Securing a leadership position among middle powers by using South Korea’s improved status as an exemplary case of defending against the COVID-19: Utilizing the achievement of “K-Quarantine” model
❍ Creating new prospects and dynamics for multilateral cooperation in Northeast Asia
❍ Considering the issue of balancing between democracy and public/mass monitoring system as South Korea’s long-term task for the qualitative maturity of democracy