By Wen Qing
On March 24, U.S. President Donald Trump asked for medical equipment and test kits in a 23-minute phone call with Moon Jae-in, President of the Republic of Korea (ROK). The call was said to be arranged after an urgent request by Trump. The U.S. president has repeatedly bragged about the U.S. preparedness for the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), but the surging confirmed cases and increasing death toll tell another story.
In fact, a week ago on March 16, the U.S. received 50,000 test kits and 1 million masks from the Jack Ma Foundation, the philanthropic organization of Jack Ma, founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba. “All the best to our friends in America,” Ma wrote on Twitter.
It was a recognition of the generous assistance many U.S. foundations and companies showed to China when it grappled with COVID-19. With the U.S. now facing similar difficulties, Chinese organizations are lending a hand. Virus knows no borders. Cooperation and communication are needed to contribute to the global battle against the pandemic, not the accusations hurled by some politicians and a segment of the U.S. media, who blame China for the crisis.
The blame game
By March 26, over 65,000 people in the U.S. had tested positive for COVID-19 and more than 920 deaths had been reported. However, just a week earlier, the number of confirmed cases was only about 4,000. According to Robert Redfield, Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the window for fully containing the spread of the coronavirus has passed in some places.
The U.S. took a different approach compared with the efforts to contain the virus in many other countries like the ROK and China. At the initial stage of the outbreak, Trump kept downplaying the threat to maintain the level of economic stability. And when the situation exacerbated, he began calling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” in an attempt to shift the blame to China. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also joined the chorus of anti-China politicians and media by using “Wuhan virus” and attacked China for “not being transparent” based on some made-up “facts.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang, rebutted the accusation, saying, “Since January 3, China has been regularly updating the World Health Organization and other countries, the U.S. included.” According to a report by the U.S. media The Daily Beast, the White House is forcing several federal agencies to blame China for creating a global pandemic. “Everything is about China. We’re being told to try and get this messaging out in any way possible, including press conferences and television appearances,” it quoted an unnamed official as saying.
Geng also said on February 2, when the U.S. banned entry of foreigners who had visited China in the past 14 days, only about 10 confirmed cases had been reported in the U.S. However, the U.S. wasted the precious time China bought for other countries. “Now the U.S. has nothing better to do than discredit others, deflect responsibilities and find scapegoats.”
In contrast, countries like Singapore and the ROK have made full use of the window period and taken necessary prevention and control measures.
Supply chain stable
In the past two months, idle factories in China and suspended flights between the two nations led some in the U.S. to view the pandemic as a perfect opportunity to decouple China and the U.S. On January 30, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the COVID-19 outbreak in China “will help accelerate the return of jobs to North America,” which was met with strong criticism at home and abroad.
It is more urgent than ever to facilitate cooperation and communication rather than decoupling and isolation, according to experts at an online seminar hosted by the Center for China and Globalization in Beijing on March 19.
“The idea of decoupling is very unrealistic,” said Teng Jianqun, Director of the Department of American Studies at the China Institute of International Studies in Beijing.
Teng said supply chain links can’t be shifted at will. China’s position in the global industrial chain, both in the short and long term, remains firm. For instance, China is an important supplier of drugs and medicinal materials worldwide and this role has been strengthened during the pandemic.
– The Daily Mail-Beijing Review News exchange item