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Time to unite for the fight as conversation holds out hope: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2020-03-27 20:29
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President Xi Jinping (R) meets with US President Donald Trump in Osaka, Japan on June 29, 2019. [Photo by Feng Yongbin/chinadaily.com.cn]

Improving bilateral relations, developing a relationship of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation, especially boosting cooperation in epidemic prevention and control and other fields.

That, in summary, is the message President Xi Jinping conveyed to his US counterpart Donald Trump during a conversation on the phone on Friday, a day after the Extraordinary G20 Leaders' Summit on COVID-19.

That the conversation was constructive is evident from Trump saying the United States is grateful for China's provision of medical supplies for the fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The conversation between the presidents of the two countries with the highest number of confirmed cases is especially important because it signifies they may eventually join hands to contain the virus, which China has been calling for ever since the epidemic broke out.

Also on Friday, the US overtook China as the country with the highest number of confirmed cases: more than 85,800 for the US compared with over 82,000 for China. More important, the daily increase of confirmed cases in China, most of them imported, has been in double digits for days, while in the US their number increased by more than 16,000 from Thursday noon to Friday noon (Beijing time).

Realizing the urgency and seriousness of the situation, therefore, Trump vowed to make personal efforts to ensure that the US and China can ward off distractions and cooperate in containing the epidemic.

The fact that the US leader said that China's experience in fighting the virus is "very illuminating" to him and that he endorsed Xi's speech at the G20 Summit — in which Xi called for international solidarity and cooperation to fight the pandemic — suggests the US might stop stigmatizing China and focus on controlling the virus, which would be the right thing for it to do.

Hopefully, the deteriorating situation in the US and readiness of China — which has largely contained the epidemic at home — to help the US in the fight against the virus should prompt Trump to at least make efforts to improve bilateral ties.

China has offered medical assistance to more than 80 countries as well as the World Health Organization and the African Union, and shared its experience of fighting the disease with almost all countries and regions, demonstrating its commitment to safeguarding global public health.

As the world's two largest economies, China and the US, apart from combating the pandemic, have the added responsibility of working together to reinvigorate the global economy, as they had done after the 2008/09 global financial crisis. The conversation between Xi and Trump raises hope they might do so.

But that would be possible only if US politicians stop smelling a conspiracy in everything Chinese.

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