China and much of east Asia have had a good crisis, relatively speaking. The recent rally in the renminbi shows currency markets are starting to acknowledge this. But it is just the tip of the iceberg. A shift in the economic balance, away from the west and towards Asia, was well under way before Covid-19. The pandemic just accelerated it.
Start by considering Beijing’s management of the outbreak. It is true that Covid started in China and the geopolitical ramifications of that are still playing out. However, case and mortality trends in the region have paled in comparison to many other parts of the world. A history of handling pandemics has helped, as has world-beating technology. But as the US and Europe continue to grapple with new waves of Covid cases, levels in much of east Asia remain low.
Better pandemic management has delivered better economic results. China is the only country among 48 to have reported a second-quarter gross domestic product number that was higher than at the end of 2019. Taiwan, Vietnam, South Korea and Hong Kong are the next closest.
In contrast, Spain’s second-quarter GDP was 20 per cent below year-end, and India’s 25 per cent. East Asian countries that were able to avoid lockdowns limited damage to the services and construction sectors. August…