US most powerful country influencing Asia-Pacific, India 4th: Asia Power Index

Vastavam web: China is closing in on the U.S. as the most powerful country influ­encing the Asia-Pacific, as America’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic tarnishes its reputation, a study showed. While America retained its place as the region’s top superpower, its 10-point lead on China two years ago has been halved, according to the Sydney-based Lowy Institute’s Asia Power Index for 2020, which ranks 26 nations and territories.

The U.S. “lost prestige” due to its poor response to the pandemic, multiple trade disputes and President Don­ald Trump’s moves to with­draw from multilateral deals and agencies, according to Herve Lemahieu, the study’s research chief and director of Lowy’s Asian Power and Di­plomacy Program. The U.S. economy could take until 2024 to recover to pre-pandemic levels, the insti­tute said. In contrast, China’s economy has rebounded from the virus and is the only large economy forecast to recover in 2020. This could give it an advantage against neighbors over the next decade.

China stayed firmly in sec­ond place for the third year run­ning, despite seeing a “notable fall” in diplomatic clout after facing accusations of withhold­ing information about the se­verity of the Wuhan outbreak. Lemahieu also cited wolf war­rior diplomacy — more aggres­sive rhetoric and actions from Beijing’s envoys — contribut­ing to that drop.