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Diplomacy in the time of the coronavirus pandemic
Ambassador Tran Duc Mau 06:51, 2020/04/09
This pandemic doesn't totally change the diplomacy but gives it a new face and mean and makes clear how it from now on becomes.

At present, the whole world is going through an unprecedented situation because of the coronavirus pandemic. Countries are under lockdown. People's daily life is slowing down. Nation states  seclude themselves. The pandemic changes the world and thus the diplomacy. Welcome to the diplomacy in the time of the coronavirus pandemic!

 China has promoted "mask diplomacy" worldwide. Photo: Nikkei

Not foreign but domestic policy becomes the top national priority everywhere. The major task of governments are now to stop the expansion of the pandemic and to reverse it. For the first time, diplomacy goes almost totally online. This is enough to assert that diplomacy is profoundly changing and changed by the pandemic.

Nation states are now the decisive players, not international organizations or multilateral alliances or institutions. All other themes on the agenda of world politics are overshadowed by this pandemic. Nothing is now more urgent and relevant than dealing with the pandemic. Like it or not, diplomacy must shift away from world politics to the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic obviously changes the constellation between national states and international and multilateral institutions, at least for the time being, but perhaps also forever to some extent.

In the time of the coronavirus pandemic, diplomacy is mostly directed by the newly defined part of the national interests prior to being decided by the principles of the classical diplomacy. Nation states have no other alternative and their outside partners have to accept it. That doesn't automatically mean bilateral or multilateral relationships between states would deteriorate but only implies that they could and would be different to the pre-pandemic period without deteriorating.

The pandemic challenges the diplomacy by limiting the acting radius of the diplomacy. World politics steps aside and subordinates national politics. Foreign policy serves domestic policy. Dealing with the pandemic is much more domestic and only involves a little bit foreign affairs. So is the world in the time of the coronavirus pandemic.

But the pandemic also created chances and opportunities for the diplomacy to play its borne game between states and partners. It is the game with protection masks which is given the name "the mask diplomacy". It is the game with information about the origins and the course of dealing with the pandemic. It is diplomatic campaigns to win partners and to disgrace adversaries, to meet public demand inside and to enhance influences outside the country.

This pandemic doesn't totally change the diplomacy but gives it a new face and mean and makes clear how it from now on becomes.

Disclaimer: The views expressed by Ambassador Tran Duc Mau are of his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Hanoitimes.

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