US-China Relations and the Geopolitics of the Covid-19 Global Economic Crisis

June 10, 2020
Charles Krusekopf, PhD
Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) program

Royal Roads’ Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) program held an online speaker event led by Dr. Yves Tiberghien and moderated by RRU Professor and MBA program head, Dr. Charles Krusekopf on the topic: "US-China Relations and the Geopolitics of the Covid-19 Global Economic Crisis". Dr. Tiberghien is a Professor of Political Science, at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and a Distinguished Fellow at the Asia-Pacific Foundation of Canada.

The presentation was part of the DBA program and the seminar-based course The Development of Management Theories and Practices: Research Themes. Royal Roads’ first class of 12 DBA students began their program earlier this year and are now engaged in online learning and research. Also joining us were students and alumni from Master of Business Administration and Master of Global Management (MGM), including our new MGM students from 16 countries around the world who are starting their program online, but plan to come to RRU once travel restrictions are relaxed.

In the talk, Dr. Tiberghien described how the Covid-19 pandemic is turning into what the IMF calls “the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression” (of the 1930s). This new massive global economic crisis is happening at a time of great power confrontation, a confrontation that has so far precluded the kind of G20 cooperation we witnessed in 2008-2009. He contrasted the lessons from previous shocks on our global system, such as the financial crisis or earlier pandemic threats, and posed the question why the world was able to work cooperatively to overcome those problems, but to date, the response to COVID-19 has been chaotic with each country looking out for its own interests. As Dr. Tiberghien described, we understand what needs to be done to address the virus but have thus far failed to effectively carry out the steps necessary to address and reduce both the health and economic risks.

A key topic within the talk was a discussion of how increasing US-China tensions is sowing dissension and preventing cooperation. It was noted that different countries have different national "narratives" - stories that are told both by the government and the people in a country that help to build national context and shared understanding within a country. We can see how these national narratives are shaping how the US and China are framing both their own understanding of the origins and implications of the COVID-19 pandemic and how they view and interact with other countries. The national narratives of the US and China around COVID-19 (and many other issues) are very different - neither country understands the point of view of the other. This problem is compounded because the leaders and officials of the US and China are not currently communicating in any meaningful way, meaning there is little chance in the near future that they will be able to understand each other's point of view and begin resolving their differences.

The talk closed with discussions of what role Canada might play both in building better relations with the US and China, and in working with like-minded countries to try to rebuild global institutions and mechanisms for cooperation among countries.

Watch the recording of the US-China Relations and the Geopolitics of the Covid-19 Global Economic Crisis talk and discussion.

If you are interested in learning more about the work of Dr. Yves Tiberghien take a look at the East Asia Forum: Facing the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression and the Global Solutions Journal: Toward “effective multilateralism” in turbulent times.

School of Business Associate Faculty member Hugh Stephens has also published two recent commentaries on Canada and China in the age of COVID-19, "Canada, Huawei, and 5G: Has the COVID-19 Pandemic Changed the Equation?" and “Blaming China for the pandemic is not productive”. Finally, RRU Adjunct Professor Jeff Kucharski offers a bold vision of a Canadian strategic energy resources strategy in a new MacDonald-Laurier Institute (MLI) in his paper entitled: Canada’s Strategy Energy Resources: Why prioritizing the Indo-Pacific will benefit Canada and our allies.