Ideas

China's Century: Imagining A New, Post-Pandemic World Order

The Covid-19 crisis is likely to reshape globalization while benefiting China and other 'illiberal' regimes.

China will likely come out of the pandemic ahead
Andrés Serbin

-OpEd-

BUENOS AIRES — The pandemic is, by its very nature, a health emergency. But it is having social and geopolitical consequences as well — and when it's all said and done, the coronavirus outbreak may very well accentuate incipient changes to the international order, with a further degradation of globalization and global governance, of multilateral response capacities, and a reordering of power relations worldwide.

The transition toward a stable, new world order will be prolonged, and possibly unpredictable and unclear in the immediate term. We shall be submerged for a while in an international environment marked by instability and uncertainty.

Recession, in the meantime, will affect both the most developed economies and the most vulnerable, with glimmers of recovery expected for 2021. This opens serious questions on globalization and paves the way for several possible scenarios.

One is the "Goodbye Globalization" idea as spelled out in The Economist, with the process "unwinding" under the pressure of isolationist and protectionist measures. Another is a globalization that specifically benefits China, which will use it to revive its economy. A third scenario is a kind of dual globalization, as imagined by some U.S. analysts, whereby liberal, multilateral bodies exist alongside agencies promoted by China.

Crew members wave goodbye as China's space tracking ship Yuanwang-6 departs from a port — Photo: Ni Dongliang/Xinhua/ZUMA

In any of these scenarios, China will increase its participation in and influence over existing, and emerging, multilateral bodies, while probably respecting liberal economic norms, as it did after entering the World Trade Organization (WTO). But that set of liberal economic values may come to exclude other norms of the "Western" world order, such as protecting refugees, safeguarding human rights or humanitarian intervention.

Such norms could fall by the wayside when they clash with "illiberal" or authoritarian conceptions like the need to control the public or mass digital surveillance.

China will increase its participation in and influence over existing, and emerging, multilateral bodies.

Beijing's woolly "health care diplomacy" cannot hide its belated, overly centralized and opaque handling of the pandemic inside China, nor distract from the reality of a state that takes top-down orders from a single party, regardless of their effectiveness.

Perhaps the greatest challenge in these potential global scenarios and the transition from bipolarity to multipolarity is the role of the organized, diverse and independent citizens who have duly confronted this crisis and boosted the state's democratic functioning. Restrictions on the role of civil society and media have meant lethal delays in fighting the virus, and further impeded rigid bureaucracies from bringing complex responses to critical situations.

Taking such restrictions to the global level will not only mean the end of a "complex" multilateral regime, but also spell the effective end of civil-society participation in forging an agenda to defend and promote global public goods.

*Serbin is president of CRIES, an association of Latin American think-tanks, and author of Eurasia and Latin America in a Multipolar World.

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La Sagrada Familia Delayed Again — Blame COVID-19 This Time

Hopes were dashed by local officials to see the completion of the iconic Barcelona church in 2026, in time for the 100th anniversary of the death of its renowned architect Antoni Guadí.

Work on La Sagrada Familia has been delayed because of the pandemic

By most accounts, it's currently the longest-running construction project in the world. And now, the completion of work on the iconic Barcelona church La Sagrada Familia, which began all the way back in 1882, is going to take even longer.

Barcelona-based daily El Periodico daily reports that work on the church, which began as the vision of master architect Antoni Gaudí, was slated to be completed in 2026. But a press conference Tuesday, Sep. 21 confirmed that the deadline won't be met, in part because of delays related to COVID-19. Officials also provided new details about the impending completion of the Mare de Déu tower (tower of the Virgin).

El Periódico - 09/22/2021

El Periodico daily reports on the latest delay from what may be the longest-running construction project in the world.

One tower after the other… Slowly but surely, La Sagrada Familia has been growing bigger and higher before Barcelonians and visitors' eager eyes for nearly 140 years. However, all will have to be a bit more patient before they see the famous architectural project finally completed. During Tuesday's press conference, general director of the Construction Board of the Sagrada Familia, Xavier Martínez, and the architect director, Jordi Faulí, had some good and bad news to share.

As feared, La Sagrada Familia's completion date has been delayed. Because of the pandemic, the halt put on the works in early March when Spain went into a national lockdown. So the hopes are dashed of the 2026 inauguration in what would have been the 100th anniversary of Gaudi's death.

Although he excluded new predictions of completion until post-COVID normalcy is restored - no earlier than 2024 -, Martínez says: "Finishing in 2030, rather than being a realistic forecast, would be an illusion, starting the construction process will not be easy," reports La Vanguardia.

But what's a few more years when you already have waited 139, after all? However delayed, the construction will reach another milestone very soon with the completion of the Mare de Déu tower (tower of the Virgin), the first tower of the temple to be completed in 44 years and the second tallest spire of the complex. It will be crowned by a 12-pointed star which will be illuminated on December 8, Immaculate Conception Day.

Next would be the completion of the Evangelist Lucas tower and eventually, the tower of Jesus Christ, the most prominent of the Sagrada Familia, reaching 172.5 meters thanks to an illuminated 13.5 meters wide "great cross." It will be made of glass and porcelain stoneware to reflect daylight and will be illuminated at night and project rays of light.

La Sagrada Familia through the years

La Sagrada Familia, 1889 - wikipedia

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