China’s help to virus-hit US triumphs over political bias

By Chen Qingqing Source:Global Times Published: 2020/3/29 21:30:24

Medical workers look out of the Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens, New York on Thursday. Elmhurst reported 13 COVID-19 patients died at the hospital in a 24-hour span, according to local officials. The US has had more confirmed coronavirus cases than any other country as of Friday. Photo: AFP

Given malicious anti-China rhetoric by some US politicians, a divergence of views emerged within China about whether or not to support the US in the fight against the coronavirus. 

Amid a worsening situation in the US, Chinese companies, associations and individuals have stepped forward to offer humanitarian support to the American people struggling with shortages of medical supplies due to a lack of preparedness. Chinese doctors shared professional advice with their US peers in a move which Chinese analysts said showed "people-to-people ties" were still the foundation of China-US relations, trumping political bias.

As the debate raged online, American doctors and nurses sought to learn more from the field experiences of Chinese doctors who fought on the frontline since January. Some US doctors expressed confusion at their local health authority directives. Many said they felt woefully unprepared for an influx of coronavirus patients that endangered their lives through inadequate protective equipment.

The problem of insufficient medical gear is already overwhelming the health system in the country, according to media reports and social media posts. 

'People-to-people' ties

After an online videoconference sharing his experiences in treating the novel coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19) patients with peers from the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle on Wednesday, Zhou Ning, a cardiologist at Tongji Hospital in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei Province, said he was preparing for another videoconference call with American cardiologists in the state of Washington this week. 

Zhou told the Global Times Sunday that American colleagues were concerned most about protection of frontline medics and treatment of critically ill patients.

He shared clinical treatment experiences with more than 50 peers for an hour and half, including the clinical characteristics of Chinese COVID-19 patients, especially their cardiovascular issues. 

Confirmed deaths caused by COVID-19 doubled in two days and hit over 2,000 in the US during the weekend. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued travel advisories for states including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

The US recorded the highest number of confirmed infections in the world: Total cases hit 124,686 as of Sunday afternoon, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University & Medicine. 

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

Doctors have reached out to their frontline peers in China, South Korea and Italy for advice. Some expressed growing doubts about guidance from US authorities, according to an article in STAT, a US-based health-oriented news website. 

A nurse in Missouri responded to a survey launched in the news website to say that the pandemic was unlike any other outbreak she had experienced and there was no training and information available. 

US doctors and nurses have been calling for personal protective equipment (PPE) facing a critical shortage of N95 masks, ventilators and other vital equipment. 

And a nationwide shortage of medical personnel was now forcing retired doctors and medical students to join the fight and the US State Department tweeted on Friday that it was encouraging medical professionals seeking work in the US on a work or exchange visitor visa.  

"The virus has no borders," said Zhou, the Tongji Hospital doctor. Only when the virus was completely under control around the world would China be truly safe, he noted.

"Helping American people is actually helping ourselves [Chinese]," he said. 

Chinese associations, companies and individuals have also been shipping masks and protective equipment to American people. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo tweeted on Friday his appreciation for Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies supplying N95 masks, isolation gowns, medical goggles and gloves. 

Jack Ma Yun, founder of Chinese internet giant Alibaba, earlier donated 500,000 test kits and 1 million face masks to the US, despite that the administration of US Donald Trump was taking a hostile stance against the rise of Chinese tech firms and imposing restrictions on tech exports amid a year-long trade war. 

To help or not to help

Whether or not to help Americans sparked fierce debate on Chinese social media. 

Many internet users noted malicious comments by US politicians including US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the recent passage of the "Taipei Act" that they said challenges the one-China principle and stirs up regional instability. 

 "Those radical hate speeches, aircraft carrier fighter planes that came to our door, the 'Taipei Act' that threatens to split our country and those 'black hands' on the Huawei matter because of national borders… Don't ask too much from us. Any good gesture to patients is out of humanitarian concern and don't kidnap me with morality," an online user posted Sunday in response to a post on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo. 

As confirmed cases surged in the US, "the filthy US government is still playing with such contemptible political means in order to pass the buck to China, shift the blame to Beijing…Once China provides aid to the US, it would tell the world that any smear campaign against China won't cost any price," another online user posted. 

Others encouraged the US to stay strong and committed to offering help to the American people, especially to local medics.  In a series of posts on his personal social media accounts, Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the Global Times, voiced his support to the people and healthcare workers in countries including the US, the UK, Spain and Italy in the fight against the coronavirus epidemic and his posts have gained widespread support from the Chinese netizens.

Hu said he was willing to move beyond his political and ideological differences with some Americans and express strong support for Americans fighting the epidemic.

Those different voices reflected paradoxical mindset of some Chinese people as China-US strategic confrontation and ideological antagonism continue escalating, particularly after the recent "Chinese virus" rhetoric by some American politicians enraged the Chinese public, and some online users left angry messages to the US Embassy to Beijing. 

"I think we should separate American politicians from the American people," Fang Xingdong, founder of Beijing-based technology think tank ChinaLabs, told the Global Times on Sunday. 

"Whether it's from a humanitarian point of view or for their own interests, we should support the US."

The US government should take more aggressive and decisive measures in enforcing quarantine measures and fully cooperate with China in fighting the virus, Fang noted. 

"The most important is to abandon its ideological bias, drop its arrogance and ignorance," he said. 

Some alumni associations in hard-hit Chinese cities including Wuhan and Huanggang donated masks to the US, according to posts on social media, with messages such as "We are the world, we are the children, we are the ones who make a brighter day."

One Beijing resident bought a box of 130 face masks and sent it to a friend in New York. 

"At this difficult time we're with you," he wrote in a message attached to the box, which cost about 2,000 yuan ($281.8) including delivery fees. 

"Those stupid politicians can't represent American people," he told the Global Times. "The virus is our common enemy and we need to fight this war together."


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