The global battle against the outbreak of COVID-19, and the current absence of global coordination or leadership from world powers, has many looking to see whether the United States and China will be able to set aside hostilities and worsening sentiment to work together in response to the crisis.
A recent piece on ChinaFile—an online magazine published by the Center on U.S.-China Relations at Asia Society—gathers the opinions and analyses of five leading China experts on where opportunity for collaboration exists, what challenges must be overcome, and what is at stake for future transnational threats and the global order.
Over the past two weeks, as the outbreak of the virus known has COVID-19 has accelerated its deadly spread around the world, an already collapsing U.S.-China relationship appears to be entering a period of free fall. This is happening at a moment when the U.S. desperately needs China’s help stemming the tide of infection and when other countries might benefit from the world’s leading powers acting in coordination to fight the pandemic and the global economic disaster following in its wake. That seems unlikely to occur given the current state of hostility and mutual recrimination over the origin of the virus. On March 26, President Donald Trump spoke by phone with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, to discuss a response to the outbreak. What concrete steps should U.S. policymakers take in the near term to create opportunities for coordination in responding to the global crisis? Is there reason to hope cooperation with China is still possible, or does the current rupture in the relationship represent an irreconcilable shift in the global order?