China and US must rescue fragile political ties

By Zhao Minghao Source:Global Times Published: 2020/3/29 16:43:40

Photo: GT

Following the G20 Extraordinary Virtual Leaders' Summit on COVID-19 on Thursday, President Xi Jinping's phone conversation with US President Donald Trump on Friday gave the world some inspiration knowing the two leaders were talking. 

While the coronavirus continues to spread around the world, there are predictions that economic losses will far exceed that of the 2008 financial crisis. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on March 19 warned that a global recession "is a near certainty." British asset management company Schroders predicts that world economy will shrink by 3.1 percent in 2020. 

Prospects for the US economy, the world's largest, look slim. JP Morgan on Wednesday estimated the first-quarter GDP of the US will contract 10 percent, and second-quarter by 25 percent. 

The pandemic has brought crises to multiple domains, including public health crisis, economic recession and social unrest. It is urgent that countries around the world cooperate to combat the crisis. Beijing and Washington must take decisive measures to temporarily put aside disputes and conflicts, and reinforce their coordination in diverse fields. This is the only guarantee the world can overcome the crisis as soon as possible.

The US should end its trade war against China, stabilizing economic ties with China. Business groups including the US Chamber of Commerce have pressed the Trump administration to permanently roll back tariffs. The New York Times reported the tariffs are hindering the capability of US hospitals and doctors to deal with the coronavirus, as China produces many of the medical goods and supplies used in the US. Although some US politicians hope to reduce US reliance on medical supplies and drugs made in China, such moves during the pandemic will cause more deaths in the US. 

Amid an escalating China-US spat over the outbreak, China is still encouraging local authorities to keep in touch with local administrations and firms of the US in terms of medical supplies exports.

An end to the trade war will also promote exports of US products to China, improve US economic stability and help US workers and farmers. US exporters are likely to see China's "demand… really picking up quite quickly," said Charles Freeman, senior vice president for Asia at the US Chamber of Commerce. 

In addition, China has taken meaningful steps to address some of the non-tariff barriers to trade and approved 500 US beef plants for meat exports to China, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. 

Beijing and Washington also need to maintain their political relations and de-escalate the war of words. US State Secretary Mike Pompeo is still spreading paranoia by using racist virus terms and groundlessly attacking the Communist Party of China. 

Other politicians such as current US Ambassador to Britain Woody Johnson, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro and some congressmen have continued their attacks on China. Their claims are ridiculous and would be a waste of time and resources. More importantly, they will erode the foundation of mutual trust between China and the US during this crucial fight against the virus.

China and the US need to support international mechanisms such as the World Health Organization, instead of using them as pawns in a competition. Analysts say the pandemic would profoundly affect the world order and intensify the China-US competition. The United Nations and the World Health Organization were slandered of being bought off by China after they praised China for its achievements in tackling COVID-19. Scientists' rational voice shouldn't be politicized. 

Trump said that "China has been through much and has developed a strong understanding of the Virus" after his phone call with President Xi. The timely conversation between the two heads of state is vital for the two countries to carry out substantial cooperation on the coronavirus, although there are obstacles ahead. If the hurtful rhetoric of people like Pompeo continues, not only Americans but the entire world will suffer.

The author is a senior research fellow at the Charhar Institute and an adjunct fellow at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

blog comments powered by Disqus