Editor’s note for Thursday, April 16, 2020

Dear Access member,

Will China become the new world leader? In Foreign Affairs (porous paywall), Michael Green and Evan S. Medeiros say, “The pandemic won’t make China the world’s leader.” The Economist asks a similar question (porous paywall): “Is China winning?” The answer appears to be that no one will really win:

The 1920s showed what happens when great powers turn selfish and rush to take advantage of the troubles of others. The COVID-19 outbreak has so far sparked as much jostling for advantage as far-sighted magnanimity. Mr Trump bears a lot of blame for that. For China to reinforce such bleak visions of superpower behaviour would be not a triumph but a tragedy.

French president Emmanuel Macron had another answer in an interview with the Financial Times (paywall):

Mr Macron bristled when asked if erratic efforts to curb the COVID-19 pandemic had not exposed the weaknesses of western democracies and highlighted the advantages of authoritarian governments such as China. There is no comparison, he says, between countries where information flows freely and citizens can criticise their governments and those where the truth was suppressed. “Given these differences, the choices made and what China is today, which I respect, let’s not be so naive as to say it’s been much better at handling this,” he says. “We don’t know. There are clearly things that have happened that we don’t know about.”

Our word of the day is gross domestic product (GDP): 国内生产总值 guónèi shēngchǎn zǒng zhí.

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief