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Fight against virus will be uncertain without cooperation of China, US

By Jasna Plevnik | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2020-03-04 16:49

The 98-year-old woman Gao and her daughter, as well as the medics, pose for a photo with big thumbs-up at Leishenshan Hospital in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei province, on March 1, 2020. [Photo by Gao Xiang/chinadaily.com.cn]

This is a very special moment for China and the world. The novel coronavirus has stopped travel, soccer and business, but America's intertwined economic and geopolitical competition with China has continued.

At the Munich Security Conference held a few weeks ago, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper were deeply aware of the delicate situation in China due to the epidemic, but despite this, they roughly attacked China and arrogantly threatened Europe with interruption of security cooperation if it continues its 5G relations with China.

The speech on geopolitics, because of economic reasons, overshadowed human sympathy at the conference whose main idea was to discuss peace and cooperation.

The pragmatic attitude of the US administration to the virus, that is, the benefits that America could receive from the health disaster in China, was confirmed by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who looks at the virus like a partner that could help in accelerating the return of jobs from China to America, which is one of the goals of the US administration in economic relations with China. Since 2017, the United States has been promoting decoupling of the US economy from China, as well as from other countries, even from its strategic ally Germany. Big American business does not support the tearing of the tissue of economic dependency in the world economic order and back to protectionism.

Human sacrifices

China, though in a situation when its leadership, at all levels, has put a lot of energy into fighting the epidemic, has begun to meet the conditions of the first phase of the trade deal with the US. Some US analysts doubt China's ability to buy from the US $ 200billion worth of goods over the next two years.

It is good for China, and the world, that America's offensive realism has not become a mainstream in international relations. China does not seek sympathy from America but a fair approach to its economy and foreign policy and role in the world.

Japan has proven itself a good neighbour, not only because of its donations to China, but also as an investor with an understanding of the uncertainty that has plagued China's economy, setting aside regional economic and strategic rivalries that shape relations in Asia.

The United Kingdom has recently decided to include Huawei in the construction of its 5G network, although America has lobbied against such a decision.

The interest of the new British government is not to follow a policy of decoupling from the Chinese economy, but to reach a favourable trade agreement with the world's first trading power, though the virus has slowed down negotiations on a Sino-British trade agreement.

Covid-19, of course, cannot weaken China's position as a global power, but China’s diplomatic agenda for 2020 has been hit hard. Many international meetings and conferences had to be postponed.

This year is important for China-Europe relations that have been developing in the direction of economic partnership and friendship, regardless of their differences in political systems. An annual China-EU summit is scheduled to take place in Beijing, followed by a summit of China and 17 countries in Central, Eastern, Southeast and Southern Europe. .

The preparations are underway for the China-EU flagship meeting in 2020, scheduled for September in Leipzig. All preparations should be completed by the end of June, which means that Croatia that now chairing the Council of the European Union, is also involved in some way in those preparations.

The General warns

It is in the interest of China and the European Union to sign a bilateral investment agreement in Leipzig as progress has been made on many issues, but the key issues of industrial subsidies and “forced technology transfer” have not yet been addressed.

Germany’s policy toward China has been friendly even before the outbreak of the virus corona, and Berlin did not accept the US administration’s strong pressure to lead economic cooperation with China by favouring a military alliance with America at the expense of market decisions.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is due to travel to China later this year, has invested a lot of diplomatic zeal and efforts to reach an agreement in Leipzig that is also important for the advancement of the global economy. The agreement would be the crown not only of the EU-China cooperation but of Merkel’s China diplomacy. The Chancellor believes now it is the right time for the agreement. Especially as politician Norbert Röttgen appeared in the contest for the next president of the ruling Christian Democratic Union party, who is widely known as a keen critic of current Chinese-German ties.

In fact, Covid-19 has strengthened China's position as a global power in a certain way, as China has shown that it is well prepared for global leadership in crisis situations. That was recognized to it by the World Health Organization. The whole world has been amazed with China’s high mobilization capacity: a large hospital was made in two weeks! President Xi Jinping has repeatedly emphasized that the Chinese are not only responsible for the health of the Chinese people, but also for the health of the people of the world.

John R. Allen, president of the Brookings Institution, a retired four-star Marine Corps general and former commander of NATO International Security (ISAF) and US forces in Afghanistan, thinks US donations to China are a great thing, but not enough. Global spread of the virus corona requires, said the General, a joint global leadership of America and China in the fight against virus corona and the binding of significant scientific resources for the benefit of all mankind.

It would be development of international relations in the right direction because there is no stability in the global world without the cooperation of America and China.

The author is president of Geoeconomic Forum Croatia. The article first appeared in the Daily Newspaper Vecernji list, Croatia. The views don’t necessarily reflect those of China Daily

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