China willing to help US

By Yang Sheng, Li Ai Xin and Chen Qingqing Source:Global Times Published: 2020/3/25 1:13:40

Trump’s racist rhetoric casts shadow on bilateral cooperation

An ambulance sits outside the US Capitol in Washington, DC, Monday. Photo: AFP

The world is experiencing a huge pandemic crisis, but unfortunately the two most powerful countries in the world are unable to cooperate to deal with the common challenge of COVID-19, and their ties are getting even more intense due to hostility from US politicians against China, which adds obstacles to China-US joint efforts to contain the pandemic that threatens the entire world.

The COVID-19 situation in the US is also getting increasingly serious and the demand for China-made medical materials, machines and drugs are increasing as well. China has show its willingness to provide help to the US, but politicians in Washington DC continue to pass the buck to China, and spread racist hatred by using the wrong term for the virus. Chinese experts said on Tuesday this self-contradicting stance will cause more losses to the Americans. 

China does have leverage on the US' medical materials supply, and based on the humanitarian principle, China won't "weaponize" its exports to the US, Chinese experts said. 

But if the US always holds a hostile stance against China on the issue and tries to pass the buck, it would be hard for China to provide more assistance, they argued. 

As Chinese people greatly offended by US politicians will oppose such assistance, the Chinese government won't have public support to do so, and Americans who really need these materials will suffer and pay the price for US politicians' arrogance and ignorance, the experts warned.

In fact, the nongovernmental channels between China and the US are always operating even as US politicians continue to harm bilateral ties. 

Some major Chinese  ventilator makers have received orders from the US as COVID-19 cases rapidly grow in the US which now reports a shortage of up to 790,000 ventilators to help the severe patients breathe. 

Despite souring ties between China and the US after US President Donald Trump maliciously referred to COVID-19 as "Chinese virus," many manufacturers in China stressed that humanity and international responsibility come first in the face of an unprecedented pandemic, and they would not restrict orders to the US for the safety of vast American people.

Some Chinese organizations, hospitals and individuals are planning to provide more help to local medics and hospitals in the US, who are also eager to learn more about China's clinical experiences in treating critically ill patients and seeking support for personal protective equipment supplies such as N95 face masks and surgical gowns, industry insiders said. 

Tesla CEO Elon Musk confirmed on Twitter Monday local time that he helped acquire 1,255 of the machines from China Friday night and air-shipped them to Los Angeles to meet demand as the pandemic becomes more severe.

In US states like California and New York, which have maintained long-term sub-national cooperation with China, and are also home to most Asian-American communities in the country, some local groups are now helping state governments and local hospitals to reach out in purchasing supplies from the world's largest manufacturer. 

Some American medical workers and experts reached by the Global Times also called for national-level cooperation between the two countries, which will help tackle supply shortages more effectively.

A churchgoer uses hand sanitizer as a preventive measure against the spread of novel coronavirus at a mass at the Holy Redeemer church in Bangkok, Thailand on Sunday. Thailand's confirmed COVID-19 cases rose by a third to nearly 600, the kingdom announced on Sunday. Photo: AFP

Obstacles for cooperation

Unfortunately, US leaders and senior politicians' hostile stance and statements against China have added obstacles to China-US cooperation to save more lives.

"How could China possibly collaborate with the US unconditionally under such a backdrop, as US politicians continue to call COVID-19 the 'Chinese virus'?" asked Xin Qiang, deputy director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai.

If the US wants cooperation, it should correct its wrong attitude and harmful remarks, and at least stop calling it "Chinese virus" or "Wuhan virus," stop passing to China the buck of its incompetence in the fighting  the COVID-19 and win China's understanding with a responsible manner, Xin said. 

Dena Grayson, a US infectious disease expert, said Tuesday on Twitter that "it's only the beginning of the beginning, unfortunately. As I've warned for over a month, coronavirus cases will explode thru March. The next 4-6 weeks will be hell."

If the US is to be caught in severe trouble, China will not just stand by and watch idly as the Chinese government will never be as irresponsible as the Trump administration is, Xin noted.

Since China is a country with the most comprehensive industrial manufacture chain, China's production capacity is powerful enough to not only support its domestic fight against the virus but can also assist many other countries, including Italy, Iran, Japan, Spain, Serbia and Germany.

The US media has found that the US really needs China to provide a sustainable supply to deal with the outbreak. 

If both the number of confirmed cases and the death toll rise sharply in the US, calls from Americans for cooperation will increase, said Ni Feng, director of the Institute of American Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing.

"But whether the voices could override the tough US political stance toward China remains uncertain, given some China hawks in Washington, such as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, are unimaginably stubborn, and the Trump administration continues to exploit the pandemic by attacking China," Ni said.

'Country without morality'

In 2019, China accounted for 95 percent of US imports of ibuprofen, 91 percent of US imports of hydrocortisone, 70 percent of US imports of acetaminophen, 40 to 45 percent of US imports of penicillin and 40 percent of US imports of heparin, according to US Commerce Department data. In all, 80 percent of the US supply of antibiotics are made in China, Politico reported.

Chinese experts said as the epidemic worsens in the US, the demand would be even greater. The New York Times also published an article on Monday to express the same concern. American frontline medical personnel are running desperately short of masks and protective equipment as they battle the coronavirus outbreak. China, already the world's largest producer of such gear, has ramped up factory output and is now indicating that it wants to help, the article said.

Xin said, "Some US politicians have no idea of their country's production capacity and has suddenly realized it needs much more protective equipment than they could have imagined. Relevant medical supplies means a lot of things, including, but not limited to, face masks. Yet setting everything else aside, melt-blown nonwoven fabric, a vital material for mask products, are now mostly produced in China."

However, the New York Times report said although China "has signaled a willingness to supply the US" as the COVID-19 spreads in the US, increasingly harsh language from US politicians and logistics issues could make it difficult for the two sides to reach a deal.

Some US policymakers are even concerned that China could make its drug exports to the US a "weapon" which could put the US in danger, Politico reported.

A Beijing-based expert on epidemic prevention and control who requested anonymity said "based on the humanitarian principle, China won't say no to saving innocent people if it can help, including people  in the US or other countries. But if the US makes no apology to the Chinese on labeling COVID-19 'Chinese virus,' I think the Chinese people will not support any assistance to the US as they don't want to help a country that has no morality and principles." 

US President Donald Trump answers a question during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, at the White House on Wednesday in Washington, DC. Photo: AFP

Bury the hatchet

In the face of a threat to humanity, there is no reason for the US politicians to put ideological or strategic competition ahead of the health and security of the people, said experts. 

Trump appeared to change his rhetoric on shifting the blame to China, after his claim of "Chinese virus" sparked controversy in China and the US, which raised concerns over rising xenophobia and racism against Asian American groups. Instead of calling it Chinese virus, Trump said in a tweet on Sunday that "it's very important that we totally protect our Asian American community in the US, and all around the world. They are amazing people, and the spreading of the virus is not their fault in any way, shape, or form."

Hatred and prejudice won't help the Trump administration tackle the pandemic crisis, while the changing tone also indicates the possibility that Washington is looking into further possible cooperation with Beijing in fighting this disease, observers said. 

During the pandemic, China has built mutual trust with countries like Japan which used to be considered a major rival to China in the region, there is no reason for the US to insist on its hostility toward China, as the will of cooperation among the peoples of the two sides exists, analysts noted.

As the epidemic situation in China improved, China is providing face masks to other countries. For example, China sent 1 million European standard medical protective masks to Italy on Saturday. 

Chinese people are also donating through non-official channels. Alibaba founder Jack Ma took to twitter on Monday to announce the donation of masks and testing kits to the US. "All the best to our friends in America," he tweeted.

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