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Society & Culture

China and the U.S. Must Cooperate Against Coronavirus

Apr 06, 2020

New York is my favorite American city. I used to live and work there and have been a frequent visitor since I became China’s ambassador to the United States. As Covid-19 continues to sweep across the world, it is sad to see the bustling, sleepless metropolis put on hold. What we are experiencing is a challenge of such magnitude that nationality and ethnicity should be irrelevant.

China was hit hard by the pandemic not long ago, so its people can empathize with Americans’ suffering now. We made huge sacrifices to push back the virus; we know how tough the battle is, and will continue to be, here and across the world. We will always remember that in our most difficult days, our friends in so many places — many of them Americans, many of them New Yorkers — offered us a helping hand. We stand ready now to repay their kindness and help them make it through too.

Let’s acknowledge there has been unpleasant talk between our nations about this disease. But this is not the time for finger-pointing. This is a time for solidarity, collaboration and mutual support.

That is why over 100 Chinese public health experts have traveled abroad to save lives. That is why we are sending test kits, protective masks and medical equipment to overrun hospitals in the United States and many other countries. That is why we are sharing expertise and hard-learned lessons with countries seeking information and answers. In his recent phone call with President Trump, President Xi Jinping of China stressed the importance of solidarity between our two countries, and promised to provide assistance to the best of our capability.

China has been providing updates about the disease in a responsible manner, including setting up an online Covid-19 knowledge center that’s available to all countries. Chinese and American health authorities and experts have stayed in close communication to share knowledge and experience.

China is doing whatever it can to support the United States and other countries in need; New York, America’s epicenter of the pandemic, is one of the biggest destinations of China’s assistance. We are facilitating the U.S. government’s purchase of personal protective equipment made in China. Indeed, factories are operating in full swing to fulfill the orders of medical supplies from New York State and other parts of America. China’s provincial and city governments are rushing to help their sister states and cities in America too. And donations are pouring in from the country’s business sector.

Huawei has donated tens of thousands of personal protective items — including masks, gloves and goggles — to New York and Washington, D.C. In total, Chinese companies have donated 1.5 million masks, 200,000 test kits, 180,000 gloves and many other medical supplies to the United States. Over the weekend, Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York expressed his appreciation to the Joseph and Clara Tsai Foundation for donating 1,000 ventilators to New York and the Jack Ma Foundation for providing masks and goggles. Chinese communities in America are also showing their support with generous financial and material donations to their local hospitals and neighborhoods. In the fight against the virus, we stand together with the people of New York and America.

At a time when solidarity is essential, we need to keep cool heads and clearly say “no” to the folly of fanning racism and xenophobia, and to scapegoating other countries or races. Such acrimony will not only undercut cooperation between our nations, but also sow seeds of suspicion and confrontation that could put our peoples — and even the world — in grave danger from this runaway virus and the economic fallout it is causing.

As the two biggest economies in the world, China and the United States need to lead international efforts in collaborative research into treatments and vaccines, and explore the sharing of pharmaceutical technologies among nations. We need to help countries with underdeveloped medical systems and contribute to better global health governance.

We must also enhance our coordination of macroeconomic policy to stabilize markets; ensure growth and people’s livelihoods; and keep the global industrial and supply chains open, stable and secure. This was the core message delivered by President Xi during the virtual Group of 20 summit on Covid-19 late last month. It is also an integral part of the notion that countries belong to a global community with a shared future.

I don’t doubt for a moment that New York will survive this crisis. I recently read that New Yorkers have taken to clapping from their balconies and windows for the health care workers who are battling on the front lines against the pandemic. I am deeply moved by such scenes of solidarity, for they speak to people’s love and courage, and to the city’s enduring strength. They are a ray of hope in this dark time of hardship.

I look forward to my next trip to New York, when I will once again roam its vibrant avenues, my eyes open for fresh signs of resilience and resolve. I also plan to see the Broadway production of The Lion King, a show about love, courage and hope. I believe this day is not too far away.

(This commentary first appeared in New York Times on April 5, 2020.)

Copyright @The New York Times.

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