Relaciones Internacionales – Comunicación Internacional

Middle powers tackle diplomatic void

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The Chinese ambassador to Australia, Cheng Jingye. China is pushing back against calls for an inquiry into the pandemic’s origins. Lukas Coch/EPA, via Shutterstock

Middle-power countries like Australia and others in Europe and Asia are forging new bonds from what they have learned from the coronavirus pandemic: that the risks of China’s authoritarian government can no longer be denied, and that the U.S. cannot be relied on to lead.
Australia, for example, has become the sudden leader of a push to bolster international institutions, after it called for a World Health Organization inquiry into the origins of the pandemic. Europe has joined the effort.
The call for an investigation infuriated Beijing, which has rejected criticism of its initial response to the coronavirus. The move, indicative of Australia’s greater willingness to confront China, has shaken up global diplomacy.

“For the rules-based international order to mean anything, it needs to be upheld,” said one Australian lawmaker. “If the world doesn’t respond and act now, when will it ever act?”

Looking ahead: The middle-power alliances might be short-lived, but they could also offer an alternative to the dynamic between the world’s two superpowers.

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