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US media outlet calls for cooperation between US and China amid COVID-19 pandemic

By Chi Zao (People's Daily Online)    17:03, May 22, 2020

Editor’s note: Due to the US government’s inefficient pandemic control measures, the country has now topped the global list for confirmed COVID-19 cases. Instead of providing aid to its people, the US government has been trying to shift the blame onto China, accusing the latter for its own mistakes. The US government’s irresponsible and groundless accusations have led to a new round of finger-pointing between the two nations, which experts and the public from both sides strongly oppose.

US news outlet Christian Science Monitor on May 19 published an article titled 'For US-China groups, the adversary is COVID-19-not a country', and specifically details the efforts made by locals and business leaders from both nations in tackling the lethal virus. Below is an abbreviated version of the article. 

As top Chinese doctors in Wuhan detailed best practices from their battle against the coronavirus, about 300 American health experts – including a dozen from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – listened intently by video conference.

“During the early stage of the outbreak, you can … never imagine how the patients rushed the hospital,” Dr. Peng Zhiyong, intensive care unit director at Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University, told the U.S. scientists, hospital chiefs, and public health officials.

It was mid-March. The United States had fewer than 50 COVID-19 deaths and 2,000 confirmed cases, a number that would soon balloon. China had been fighting the outbreak for months. But such direct information sharing between Chinese and American practitioners was unexpectedly limited, said organizer Li Lu.

“I was surprised,” said Mr. Li, the Seattle-based investor and philanthropist who arranged the event. Worsening U.S.-China tensions and a raging blame game over the virus between Washington and Beijing meant “two months of valuable experiences [from China] are largely lost in America,” Mr. Li told the group.

“The virus doesn’t recognize political disputes, nor national boundaries … nor ideologies,” nor trade wars, says Mr. Li, chairman of Himalaya Capital Management. “With this virus we have now found a real worthy adversary.”

Groups ranging from corporations and mom-and-pop businesses to local governments and nonprofits are bridging the divide. They are also pushing back against a broader economic decoupling of China and the United States, advanced by some leaders in Beijing and Washington.

More than 100 leading U.S. academics, executives, and foreign policy experts, including prominent Republicans and Democrats, signed an April letter urging a joint fight against the coronavirus, following a similar appeal signed by 100 Chinese academics. Despite rising competition and valid concerns on either side, “no effort against the coronavirus,” says the U.S. letter, “will be successful without some degree of cooperation between the United States and China.”

Chinese and American cities are also leveraging sister city relationships and other municipal ties.

In Seattle’s waterfront industrial district, the fire department last month welcomed 10,000 respirator masks donated to the city by the coastal metropolis of Hangzhou.

“That’s a few weeks’ worth for the entire department, so the impact is big,” says Seattle Fire Department warehouse chief Sundae Garner, adding that the department had only one pallet left in stock.

Washington state has relied heavily on donations for protective gear, with 20% of N95 respirator masks donated, says J. Norwell Coquillard, executive director of the Washington State China Relations Council. The WSCRC’s new sister charitable organization handled the mask import from Hangzhou, overcoming major bureaucratic hurdles in both China and the United States, says Man Wang, director of the council.

Groups like WSCRC with ties in both countries have proven particularly proactive.

Seattle-based entrepreneur Lv Lili, head of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Washington state, spearheaded campaigns to donate medical supplies in China and locally. The chamber most recently helped launch a “#FoodWithLove” drive that has so far delivered more than 15,000 free meals to front-line health care workers and police in the Seattle area.

“I love this city, I love the people here, and I want the environment to be better,” says Ms. Lv, who arrived from China in 2014. The food is donated and prepared by 15 local restaurants and delivered daily by Chowbus to 26 hospitals, clinics, testing sites, and police stations. The goal is to raise donations to pay for future meals, to help keep restaurants afloat.

“Everybody’s doing their best to help fight the coronavirus and get through this hard time, we’re just doing what we can,” says Liu Zhixing, whose family operates Frying Fish restaurant in Bellevue. Despite suffering a 60% to 70% decline in business, Mr. Liu is donating hundreds of free meals to first responders. “They are doing something we are not brave enough to do,” he says.

Receiving 30 meals of spicy tofu and stir-fried green beans from Frying Fish one recent night, Bellevue police Capt. Robert Spingler calls the “#FoodWithLove” deliveries “pretty unprecedented.” “The officers really enjoy it,” he says. “The food will be gone in an hour or so.”

A similar scene unfolded at the University of Washington virology lab, where program coordinator Lisa Rider emerged from the around-the-clock COVID-19 test analysis facility to collect 50 meals and two ornate cakes from Chengdu Memory restaurant in Seattle’s Chinatown. “It’s been a godsend, particularly for people who are working the midnight shift,” says Ms. Rider, whose lab analyzes about 1,500 tests a day.

The Dolar Shop, a Chinese hot pot chain, is distributing 100 free meals to the public from its Bellevue restaurant and another 150 meals to hospitals and first responders each day.

Chinese Americans feel a special responsibility, says Haipei Shue, president of United Chinese Americans, a nationwide nonprofit focused on boosting civic engagement. “I’ve been in this country for 33 years, and I have never seen the Chinese community so mobilized, engaged, generous,” he says. The reasons are many, but amid deteriorating U.S.-China relations, heightened scrutiny of ethnic Chinese, and a recent spike in anti-Asian racist attacks, Chinese Americans feel insecure, he says, “like they have a target on their back.” They want to go the extra mile to help, in part “to prove they are as American as others. ... It is very upsetting and sad,” he says.

United Chinese Americans of Washington (UCAWA) rallied 65 local organizations to obtain protective gear for China, then pivoted to do the same for Seattle, while raising $140,000 for EvergreenHealth Foundation in Kirkland, the first U.S. epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.

“No matter what happens on the level of the two governments, if you feel the pain, people on both sides, you [do] what you ought to do,” says Mr. Li, who describes himself as “100% Chinese and 100% American.”

A popular line from Chinese poetry expresses it best, he says: “Though mountains and rivers separate nations, together we share the same sky.”       

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Bianji, Hongyu)

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