Covid-19 Heightens U.S.-China Rivalry, New Report Says

LONDON—The global coronavirus pandemic has intensified the rivalry between the U.S. and China, increasing future instability in international diplomatic relations, according to an annual report on global risks from the World Economic Forum.

The report, which draws on opinions of hundreds of executives and academics associated with the WEF, as well as risk-management specialists, says the pandemic threatens to widen income and other disparities within and between societies, increasing the risks of a further fracturing inside some states and in international relations.

Covid-19 “has entrenched state power and intensified rivalry between the United States and China,” the report says, forcing other powers to choose sides.

“With some alliances weakening, diplomatic relationships will become more unstable at points where superpower tectonic plates meet or withdraw,” it says. This trend has been accentuated as a lack of face-to-face discussions have hurt traditional diplomacy.

The report is usually published just ahead of the WEF’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. This year, the meeting has been postponed because of the pandemic until May, when it will take place in Singapore. Next week, the forum is organizing a virtual meeting that includes addresses from leaders such as China’s Xi Jinping and India’s Narendra Modi.