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Against a backdrop of tariffs, 5G, and weakening diplomacy, COVID-19 might be a rare chance for the two countries to come together—if they can listen to their better angels.
Argument: Could the Pandemic Ease U.S.-China Tensions? Could the Pandemic Ease U.S.-China Tension...
As the coronavirus circles the globe, it’s proving a startling reminder of just how interconnected our world has become. The virus has moved along our global supply chains, and it can be stopped only with global cooperation. But the war of words between U.S. and Chinese officials last month shows how the pandemic can bring out the worst in the two countries. While the rhetoric has abated somewhat, there is now an opening for both nations to reverse course, and they must act fast—particularly in working together to develop vaccines, proliferate life-saving medical equipment, and keep open vital global supply chains.
U.S.-China relations had sharply deteriorated long before the discovery of a mysterious virus in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late December. Friction increased over long-standing points of contention such as Taiwan and the South China Sea. Other disagreements, such as those over human rights, cybertheft, and the future of Hong Kong, have lingered or worsened. Tit-for-tat tariff retaliation during the 18-month trade war has paused but not ended, while a cutthroat battle for primacy in areas like 5G and artificial intelligence, as well as the expulsion of journalists, has coincided with the breakdown of regular dialogue between the two governments.
[Mapping the Coronavirus Outbreak: Get daily updates on the pandemic and learn how it’s affecting countries around the world.]
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