China and the United State must abandon their cold war mentality and unite to fight the “common enemy of human beings” in the coronavirus, according to a group of Chinese scholars said.
The pandemic has re-escalated tensions that appeared to have cooled somewhat after the signing of the phase one trade deal in mid-January.
A claim by a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman that it was the US military who “brought the epidemic to Wuhan” was followed up on Thursday with American President Donald Trump saying that “the world is paying a very big price for what they did”, seen as an accusation that China covered up the outbreak in the early stages.
China have also claimed Trump’s “Chinese virus” label to be a smear on the country, while the tensions are also believed to have contributed to Beijing’s decision to expel American journalists from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.
We see how vulnerable humans are in the face of the virus, so tiny it is, so unseen and untouchable, but it can melt down the US stock market … the solidarity of all human beings is vitally important
Victor Zhikai Gao
“China is not an enemy of the US. The Chinese people are friends of the American people, the cooperation between China and the US will benefit both two countries and is essential for the advancement and development of all mankind,” said Victor Zhikai Gao, vice-president of the Beijing-based think tank, the Center for China and Globalisation.
“We see how vulnerable humans are in the face of the virus, so tiny it is, so unseen and untouchable, but it can melt down the US stock market … the solidarity of all human beings is vitally important,” added Gao, who was also an interpreter for paramount leader Deng Xiaoping.
The death toll in the US had reached 201 by Friday morning, with over 15,000 cases, while China reported a second consecutive day of no new domestic cases on Friday.
Xu Hongcai, the deputy director of the Economic Policy Commission at the China Association of Policy Science, told the same forum in Beijing on Thursday, that it was now necessary for President Xi Jinping to speak with Trump to de-escalate the rising tensions.
The pair last spoke six weeks ago on February 7, when China was at the height of the outbreak and they agreed to kept “close communication”.
The bilateral relationship, though, suffered a blow this week after a phone call between China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi and US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo produced more differences than agreements, according to statements from Beijing and Washington.
It is apparent that a mental pattern of confronting China still exists in the US, that has brought obvious harm to China-US relations
Su Hao, director of the Centre for Strategic and Peace Studies at China Foreign Affairs University, said the China-US relationship is “at a status of severe confrontation and cold war-like”.
“It is apparent that a mental pattern of confronting China still exists in the US, that has brought obvious harm to China-US relations,” Su said, who called for China and the US to seek to repair ties via a cooperation centring around making face masks and developing vaccines.
Teng Jianqun, director of the department for American studies at the China Institute of International Studies, a think tank within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, agreed that both sides had not yet completely moved away from a cold war mentality.
“It is not China-US relations that have a problem, but people’s minds,” he said.
Xia Liping, dean and professor of the School of Political Sciences and International Relations at Tongji University in Shanghai, said Beijing and Washington should carry out a joint investigation into the origin of the virus, instead of resorting to a potentially harmful war of words.
He also said that China should provide help, if requested by the US, while the two countries should combine their efforts to help other nations, especially developing countries, to contain the outbreak.
Xu Zhengzhong, professor at the Central Party School of Communist Party of China, said that the two sides should aim to restore a global mechanism of trust and could consider working together to help the global economy just like the Group of 20 (G20) did after the 2008 financial crisis.
“Currently China has become the largest safe island in the world, and the US is still the most powerful country [in terms of] containment capabilities,” he said. “Trust is worth more than gold now.”
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