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China and US should battle virus together

Wang Lili / CHINA DAILY No Comments Share:
US President Donald Trump with a letter from China’s leader Xi Jinping. The two have been engaged in a war of words. AFP

The Novel Coronavirus pandemic has forced more than 2 billion people across the world to stay in self-quarantine, with the numbers of confirmed cases and deaths rising by the hour in many countries outside China.

The outbreak is worsening in the United States, as the number of COVID-19 infections climbed above 85,000 on Friday, exceeding the respective national tallies of China and Italy, and the US death toll rose beyond 1,200.

The salient feature of the international landscape is the growing power gap between the US and China and other countries, and ideological divisions in the world, which are restricting global cooperation. For China and the US, the fierce competition in many fields, which has intensified since 2018, is pushing the two countries to the brink of a so-called new Cold War.

As China and the US move toward strategic competition, the established world order has suffered an unprecedented blow. Ever since the epidemic broke out, the US administration and some US politicians have not stopped pressuring China by playing up the “China threat” theory and blaming it for the spread of the virus. In this context, the change in the US China policy is a long-term affair and the strategic “competition” between China and the US will be, in the ultimate analysis, sustainable and systematic.

Yet in the face of the current global health crisis, China and the US should fulfill their respective responsibilities to provide public goods and lead their own citizens as well as other countries to tide over the crisis. The two countries should put aside their political, economic and ideological differences, at least for the time being, and work together to deal with the global health emergency.

China and the US have different histories, cultures and languages, adhere to different ideologies and have different political systems, but there is no reason why any of these should prevent them from sharing the universal human values of love and kindness. At this critical moment, all of us are like members of a community with a shared future and we expect China and the US to strengthen cooperation to boost the fight against the virus.

Thanks to its comprehensive and stringent measures, China has largely contained the spread of the virus at home. It has also dispatched medical teams and supplies to more than 80 countries hit by the Coronavirus, in order to help them better fight the pandemic, and urged all countries to help their citizens build a sense of shared future so they can jointly meet the challenge. The Chinese government and the global strategic community broadly agree on this issue.

In the early days of the outbreak, when Wuhan, capital of Hubei province and the epicentre of the epidemic in China, was facing its worst crisis, the US people, businesses and nongovernmental organisations provided a wide range of assistance for the Chinese people, showcasing the friendship between the two peoples, which is a pillar of China-US relations. To be sure, China and the US have overcome various difficulties and challenges over the past four decades and more and maintained a positive momentum.

Apart from the US people and businesses that donated generously to help China, there is also a group of ideological elites in the strategic community who strongly urge the US administration and politicians to work with their Chinese counterparts to combat the pandemic. Even some US scholars have called upon the US leadership to join hands with China to contain the outbreak, instead of indulging in a war of words with it over where the Novel Coronavirus originated.

Kevin Rudd, president of the Asia Society Policy Institute and former prime minister of Australia, wrote in an article that the Novel Coronavirus is a reminder to the world that no country is an island and that only multilateral cooperation and coordination can effectively control the pandemic. The medical community in the US also widely believes that China and the US should strengthen communication and cooperation on disease control and prevention.

Under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, China has taken a series of public crisis management measures, organised national forces to control the spread of the virus within a short time, and managed to virtually contain the epidemic. In the process, the Chinese medical community has accumulated rich experience in epidemic control. And now that China has largely controlled the outbreak, all sections of society will gradually return to normal and the Chinese economy will regain its vitality as a driver of the world economy.

The experience China has accumulated in fighting the outbreak at home and the gradual recovery of its economy will enable it to provide public goods and coordinate the efforts of various parties for the global fight against the epidemic.

A country’s global leadership and international reputation is not based only on its economic and military strength, but more on the role it plays in global governance and coordinating different countries’ responses to a major crisis, its domestic governance record and whether it fulfills its responsibility of providing global public goods.

Therefore, the US administration and leaders should put aside their differences and competition with China in the political and economic fields and work with it in a spirit of cooperation, in order to contain the pandemic and demonstrate to the world that the US is indeed a responsible superpower. This will not only be in the interests of the US and China, but also for the benefit the people in the rest of the world.

 

The author is a professor at and deputy dean of the National Academy of Development and Strategy, Renmin University of China. CHINA DAILY

 

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