DPG Indo-Pacific Monitor

Vol.I, Issue.6

Date: July 01, 2020

Major Developments

The month began with the release of an investigative report by the Associated Press spelling out how China had deliberately delayed releasing information regarding the Covid-19 virus and the WHO had adopted a strategy of publicly praising China to ensure its continued engagement, while privately pushing for greater cooperation.  The strategy resulted in completely undermining the credibility of the WHO.  The contents of the report were predictably denied by Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian.  Meanwhile, COVID-19 continued its destructive march, having infected more than 10 million people as the month ended and the death toll had exceeded 500,000.  On the positive side, over 5.1 million people worldwide had recovered from the pandemic after being infected.

The US, with over 2.6 million infections and 128,000 deaths, remained the worst affected nation.  It was followed by Brazil, with nearly 1.4 million infections.  Russia, India and the United Kingdom were the next three worst affected. Africa had reported nearly four million infections and 10,000 fatalities, with South Africa being the hardest hit nation on the continent.  The detection of a large number of coronavirus cases from BeijingXinfadi market led to the Fengtai suburb of the city being locked down during the month and re-imposition of travel restrictions. 

It was not doom and gloom, however.  New Zealand proclaimed its COVID free status in first week of June, with no new cases since the third week of May.  Tokyo moved towards the final stage of reopening business activity, involving opening of entertainment and recreational facilities. 

The IMF’s latest projections indicated the global economy would contract by 4.9% in 2020, with recovery projected to be more gradual than previously forecast.  The US economy was projected to contract by 8%, that of the Euro Area and UK by 10.2%, Japan by 5.8% and India by 4.5%.  China, however, was projected to grow by 1%.

India (along with Kenya, Mexico, Ireland and Norway) was elected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for a two year term beginning January 1, 2021.  The United Nations commemorated the 75th anniversary of the signing of the UN Charter on June 26, 2020.  The draft commemorative declaration saw the US, UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and India objecting to the inclusion of the phrase to realise our shared vision of a common future” which was proposed by China and supported by Russia, Pakistan and Syria.   A British statement explained the rationale for the objection.  The declaration, as finally delivered, did not include the phrase. 

Defense Ministers of the Five Eyes nations met virtually on June 22 & 23, 2020 and committed to advancing cooperation on supporting and defending the stable rules-based global order that is being increasingly challenged.  Secretary of State Pompeo announced the creation of a new trans-Atlantic dialogue on China in his interaction with the Brussels Forum on June 25, 2020.  His opening statement talked of a new realism in the EU regarding the Communist Party of China (CPC).  It also highlighted Chinas provocative actions in the South China Sea, deadly border confrontation with India, opaque nuclear programme and threats to peaceful neighbours; its numerous broken international commitments, including to the UN, WTO, WHO and the people of Hong Kong; and its predatory economic practices, including attempts to force business with Huawei, an arm of the Chinese surveillance state. Pompeo described as “nonsense” the belief of those who make money in China that we must calm tensions and accept an increasingly belligerent CPC”. He also committed the US to military repositioning to counter PLA threats to India, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and in the South China Sea.