COVID-19 curbs China’s power in Indo-Pacific, risks of war ‘significant’ – report
7 December, 2021, 5:10 am
The coronavirus pandemic has weakened China’s power in the Indo-Pacific, and the region’s deepening security uncertainties present a “significant” risk of war, the Lowy Institute said in a report on Sunday.
U.S. allies in the region and key balancing powers such as India have never been more dependent on American capacity and willingness to sustain a military and strategic counterweight in response to China’s rise, said the Sydney-based foreign policy think tank.
“Whether the emerging balance of military power contributes to deterrence and strategic stability in the Indo-Pacific is an open question,” the report said.
The impact from the pandemic has undermined the overall region’s prosperity, weakening China’s comprehensive power.
The think tank said Australia, whose relations with China have deteriorated significantly in recent years, has weathered China’s growing power better than most U.S. partners – but is growing more reliant on Washington.
In 2018, Australia banned Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies Co from its 5G telecommunications network. Relations worsened last year when Canberra called for an independent investigation into the origins of the coronavirus, prompting a series of trade reprisals from China.