An Epochal Moment? The COVID-19 Pandemic and China’s International Order Building

Nicholas Ross Smith, Tracey Fallon

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


This article considers the potential for the COVID-19 pandemic to represent an epochal moment in international politics, one which China can use as a window to maximize its international order-building efforts. It is argued that China’s putative international order-building efforts to date have faltered, in part, due to an inability to create meaningful friendships with prominent international powers. However, the COVID-19 pandemic allows China to play a key humanitarian role in heavily afflicted countries and, through this, perhaps an opportunity to forge more meaningful friendships. It is argued that China is trying to attach its concept of friendship to its humanitarian assistance while also stepping into the clear international leadership void that exists at the moment. This is not without faults or missteps, but the lasting impact could be significant for international politics and the global order.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-255
Number of pages21
JournalWorld Affairs
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020


  • COVID-19
  • China’s Rise
  • Coronavirus
  • Global Crisis Response
  • Global Leadership Void
  • Health Crisis
  • Humanitarian Aid
  • International Friendship
  • International Order
  • International Politics
  • International Relations
  • Pandemic
  • World Order

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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