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The world needs cooperation not confrontation

By Zheng Guichu | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2020-04-30 08:41

Major infectious disease is the common enemy of all mankind rather than a political game. When Trump is busy halting funding to the World Health Organization while finger-pointing its role in "severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus", musicians around the world, including Lang Lang, Céline Dion, John Legend, raised $127 million via the livestreamed benefit concert "One World: Together at Home" co-organized by the WHO for coronavirus relief efforts.

COVID-19 epidemic is still raging across the world, posing a grave threat to people’s safety and health. The virus has infected nearly three million people and killed more than 200,000 worldwide, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University. When lives are at stake, nothing matters more than saving them. It is useless to argue over the merits of different social systems or models. The pressing task for all countries is to unite, fight and defeat it together.

The United States must stop scapegoating China. Using the pandemic to score political points is dangerous and will only result in "many more body bags", the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on April 22. Since the epidemic broke out, China has taken the most comprehensive, thorough and rigorous measures in an open, transparent and responsible manner and made efforts to stem the spread of the epidemic and proactively conducted international cooperation on COVID-19. On April 6, Xinhua News Agency published the full text of the country’s coronavirus response timeline, which proves that China has been timely releasing information on COVID-19 since its onset. There will be time when this global emergency is over to figure out when and how the coronavirus appeared and spread. But we are where we are, the US and the rest of the world must focus on fighting the pandemic.

Blaming China for the novel coronavirus distracts from the shortcomings of other countries’ responses, Antoine Bondaz, research fellow at the Foundation for Strategic Research in Paris, said. "Clearly, the worse the crisis will be in Europe, the more we will criticize China. Yet, we also need to be honest and acknowledge we may have initially mismanaged the way we have handled the sanitary crisis. We need China today in that crisis and European governments cannot afford to be too critical in the short term," he said.

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. Over 100 Chinese public health experts have traveled abroad to save lives. China is sending test kits, protective masks and medical equipment to overrun hospitals in the United States and many other countries. Also, China is sharing expertise and hard-learned lessons with countries seeking information and answers.

Unlike some biased politicians, Chinese and American health authorities and experts have stayed in close communication to share knowledge and experience. The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine is seeking to work together with the Second Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University School of Medicine in Hangzhou by holding an hour-long meeting. The Zhejiang doctors unreservedly shared how they had cured 35 intensive-care patients completely and brought the status of another 28 down to only mild disease with their counterparts. The Hopkins team was impressed with China’s scrupulous measures to minimize viral transmission, "especially among health care workers," Auwaerter, professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins said. "Such measures have successfully slowed the epidemic in China."

All nations including China and the US must work together to stem the tide of the pandemic. Combating the pandemic is exactly the kind of challenge that requires the two nations to come together, from sharing lessons learned in their respective responses to searching for medical treatments to working together in multilateral organizations like the WHO and the G20.

Health experts have widely criticized Trump for his decision to pull funding from the WHO, describing it as dangerous and short-sighted in the midst of a pandemic, as well as the US government’s continued failings in handling the crisis. Collaboration will outlive the horrible experience, Jeremy Lim, professor of global health at the National University of Singapore and co-founder of AMiLi, a microbiome repository, said. "COVID-19 is an epochal event and life will not be the same," Lim said. "The pandemic is showing that we need to depend on each other more for information, materials and expertise."

In the era of globalization, there will naturally be more conventional and unconventional security threats. Smear and stigmatization can never cover up the truth and blame-shifting will not make oneself immune to the virus. Solidarity, unity and cooperation are the only right way forward and the most powerful weapon to defeat the epidemic. China is ready to work with the international community, to uphold multilateralism, strengthen solidarity and cooperation and jointly safeguard the health and safety of all mankind.

The author is a Beijing-based expert on international studies.

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