China-US pandemic assistance persists despite rational voices receding


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China-US pandemic assistance persists despite rational voices receding


Source: Global Times    Published: 2020-07-10

Key advocates are calling for greater partnering between China and the US in the fight against coronavirus even as rational voices are being marginalized and undervalued especially during the COVID-19 outbreak in the US, where some politicians have politicized the virus by tossing wild accusations against China.

Yet, non-governmental cooperation between China and the US in response to COVID-19 has never ceased despite pressures and challenges caused by strained governmental ties, a recent report by Center for China and Globalization (CCG) shows.

CCG's report shows that by May 26, donations received by China (excluding Hubei) from sister states and related organizations in the US were valued at hundreds of thousands of yuan. Donations included 171,088 masks of various types, 1,300 items of protective clothing, 893 pairs of goggles and other equipment, according to incomplete statistics from the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries.

Chinese provinces and cities have also made large donations to US sister cities, including millions of medical items.  

Chinese and American chambers of commerce have also played an important role in the fight against COVID-19 by purchasing and donating materials, encouraging enterprises to make donations, and conducting research on the impact of the pandemic.

While many people in the US and China have forged close relationships, they constantly face challenges from US political hawks whose China-bashing rhetoric intimidates progressives and stunts local cooperation and support.

"Getting tough with China has become a typical feature of the political landscape in the US, where rationalists have increasingly become the silent majority, making the voice of reason all the more precious especially during the global pandemic," said Wang Wen, professor and executive dean of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China and executive director of China-US People-to-People Exchange Research Center.

Amid a new era of McCarthyism in the US, some public figures and institutions calling for rational and amicable ties with China are reluctant to speak out for fear of being criticized by authorities and in the media, Wang told the Global Times.

Damaged global supply chains and challenges brought by China-US trade troubles have also dampened sourcing of needed medical supplies and equipment.

"Some media outlets tend to blame the entire country or government for intentional or unintentional mistakes made by individuals or companies in emergency cross-border shipments," Ker Gibbs, President, the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai (AmCham Shanghai), said during a recent video conference on the report of China-US non-governmental cooperation in COVID19. This undermines the efforts of cross-national traders to secure scarce medical supplies, Gibbs said.

Liu Yuanli, Professor and Dean of Peking Union School of Public Health (PUSPH), has participated in more than 1,000 international online seminars during which he has shared China's successes with healthcare workers in the US and other countries. Yet he is deeply disappointed that the fight against the virus in the US has been politicized and scientific findings have been undervalued or ignored.

Liu said a number of American scholars he invited to his seminars backed out as they were concerned about political fallout, even though they were eager to participate.

"The COVID-19 pandemic is neither the beginning nor the cause but the catalyst of an accelerated effort by American xenophobes and ideological opponents of China to reverse our two countries' interdependence," Charles W. Freeman Jr., a former senior US diplomat who decades ago witnessed the establishment of China-US diplomatic relations, told the Global Times in a previous interview.

Anti-China sentiments are now "fraying many of the bonds between our two societies, but decoupling will injure and impoverish both countries as well as the rest of the world," Freeman said.

"We humans live on a single planet with a highly integrated economy. In the end, in our own respective interests, we must find ways to pursue mutual benefit, notwithstanding our differences," he suggested.

Wang Wen is professor and executive dean of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China, and executive director of China-US People-to-People Exchange Research Center. His latest book is Great Power's Long March Road.