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Prerna Trehan asked: Is the COVID-19 pandemic changing the conception of security and alliances in the contemporary world?

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  • S. Kalyanaraman replies: It is true that the COVID-19 pandemic is global in scope and poses a non-military challenge to all of humanity. Yet, instead of boosting the notion of human security, the pandemic is likely to reinforce the traditional conception of national security because it is disrupting the flow of goods and people across borders, ushering in a global depression, reversing the process of globalisation, and turning countries inwards. This trend is likely to intensify with China’s emergence as a peer rival to the United States and its decisive turn away from domestic economic and political reforms as well as peaceful and status quoist diplomatic and military postures abroad under the leadership of Xi Jinping. Indeed, even amidst the raging pandemic, China is resorting to aggressive military action as evident from its intrusion across the Line of Actual Control in Eastern Ladakh and refusal to disengage and de-escalate, provocative military actions against Taiwan, and demonstration of military capabilities in the South China Sea. If nothing else, these aggressive Chinese actions, at a time when most countries are so completely focused on dealing with the pandemic, should indicate to any intelligent observer of international affairs that the traditional conception of national security and alliances are unlikely to change at least in the foreseeable future.

    Views expressed are of the expert and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Manohar Parrikar IDSA or the Government of India.

    Posted on August 18, 2020