Chinese scholars' appeal for China, US joining hands in COVID-19 fight must be heard: Diplomat magazine editor


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Chinese scholars' appeal for China, US joining hands in COVID-19 fight must be heard: Diplomat magazine editor


Source:Global Times    published:2020-04-05

Cooperation between China and the US is critcal to saving lives in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and the voice of Chinese scholars reaching out with a unified message to the US for cooperation should be heard, Shannon Tiezzi, editor-in-chief of The Diplomat, told the Global Times on Sunday detailing the reasoning behind the magazine publishing an open letter from 100 Chinese scholars. 

When such a large group of Chinese scholars are trying to reach out with a unified message to the US, we should take notice and hear what they have to say, she noted.

Nearly 100 former US officials and scholars issued a joint statement on April 3, calling for cooperation between China and the US in fighting against COVID-19. On April 2, 100 Chinese scholars published an open letter to the US in The Diplomat magazine, calling for global solidarity and cooperation against politicizing and stigmatizing the epidemic.

Wang Wen, executive dean of the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies and also the initiating coordinator of the open letter from 100 Chinese scholars, told the Global Times on Sunday that he initially invited two American scholars who were involved with the signatories of the US statement to be part of the open letter so as to jointly make the appeal, but failed. 

After the letter was completed, Chinese scholars tried to publish it on the website of US think tanks and several mainstream media outlets in Europe and the US, but were politely rejected or not replied to. Wang said he appreciated the inclusiveness and openness of The Diplomat by publishing the Chinese scholars' letter.

Tiezzi was directly involved in the publication of the letter by Chinese scholars. "Although The Diplomat is headquartered in the US, we pride ourselves on publishing voices from around the world, especially from Asian countries. Of course, that includes scholars and journalists from China as well," she said.

After the publication of the open letter by 100 Chinese scholars, it caused a huge response in China and abroad. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying highly praised the letter by saying that "more such rational, calm and positive voices are needed now. I also forwarded the open letter."

Just one day later, nearly 100 former senior officials and scholars in the US issued a joint statement calling for cooperation between China and the US in fighting the epidemic.

It has become a high-profile example of these Chinese scholars' desire for US-China cooperation at a time when many experts are pessimistic about the overall trend of the bilateral relationship, Shannon said.

"I can't say that the letter signed by US experts is directly related to the open letter by Chinese scholars, but I think the motivating factor is the same. Many academics and even former diplomats and officials in both the US and China are very concerned by the hostile rhetoric that has only intensified amid the COVID-19 crisis. I think it's a very positive sign that scholars from both countries are now speaking out to try to encourage cooperation, especially during this pandemic," she said.

Wang said that the US scholars' statement was a partial response to the Chinese scholars' letter, although it was still critical of China's early anti-epidemic efforts. This shows that calls for cooperation between China and the US is the consensus of the intellectual elites in both countries amid the outbreak.

"We need to unite more people and expand this consensus; not only to promote it into a global effort to fight the epidemic, but also to make it an emerging force in the post-epidemic era of China-US relations," he noted.

"When inviting the Chinese scholars, we fully considered geographical and disciplinary representativeness, not limited to a single discipline of international relations, or metropolises as Beijing, Shanghai and other big cities. This choice is to fully reflect the mainstream Chinese intellectual elites embacing peace, objectivity, rationality and tolerance, Wang explained.

US- China cooperation is very necessary, particularly at the scientific level, Shannon said.

After all, Chinese scientists and medical professionals have had several months' headstart on studying the virus, including developing possible treatments and vaccines. The tensions and political differences between China and the US are well known by this point, and that makes government-to-government cooperation quite difficult, she said.

However, that shouldn't stop epidemiologists, doctors and pharmaceutical scientists from working together on perhaps the most urgent problem facing humanity at the moment. As both the Chinese and American scholars who signed the respective open letters have said, this is about saving lives, Shannon noted.

According to the latest data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the US reached 311,301, with a total of 8,476 deaths.

Wang Wen, Executive Dean of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.