Top two economies urged to collaborate amid pandemic

Top two economies urged to collaborate amid pandemic

Washington and Beijing should start with expediting visas for health experts, removing tariff barriers on lifesaving medical equipment as well as refraining from export bans on the equipment, said Ryan Hass, who was director for the Chinese mainland, Taiwan and Mongolia affairs at the National Security Council between 2013 and 2017.

Progress toward shortening the period of suffering induced by the coronavirus could be made if China and the United States were to collaborate in ramping up pandemic control efforts and creating more favorable conditions for the reopening of economies, a former senior US diplomat said.

Washington and Beijing should start with expediting visas for health experts, removing tariff barriers on lifesaving medical equipment as well as refraining from export bans on the equipment, said Ryan Hass, who was director for the Chinese mainland, Taiwan and Mongolia affairs at the National Security Council between 2013 and 2017.

"If it was possible to set aside politics and look at the COVID-19 problem through a narrow interest-based lens, there would be a clear rationale for both countries to collaborate to save lives, stop the spread of the virus, and hasten a global economic recovery," Hass, a foreign policy fellow at the Brookings Institution, said in a report published on Tuesday.

The reason, Hass said, derives from the reality that neither country will be able to stamp out the virus in every corner of the world on its own.

"There are no multilateral institutions with the capacity and the credibility to do so without the strong backing of the United States and China," he wrote in an article titled The fastest route to ending this crisis involves China, which is part of a Brookings report, "Reopening the World: How to Save Lives and Livelihoods".

As of Wednesday, the world had recorded more than 8.06 million cases of COVID-19, with 440,290 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

The US has surged past 2 million confirmed coronavirus cases, the most infections in the world, with a death toll nearing 116,000, also the highest.

Risk remains

In China, after a 57-day period with no new domestically transmitted cases, its capital Beijing has been reporting a daily double-digit growth in domestically transmitted COVID-19 cases since June 11. On Tuesday, the city upgraded its emergency response to the coronavirus from the third-to the second-highest level of its four-tier system.

Hass noted that unless the virus is eradicated everywhere, people in China and the US will remain at risk and both economies will suffer.

In his article, Hass said the crisis had occurred amid a period of deteriorating relations between the world's top two economies, and COVID-19 has served to intensify their frictions.

Leaders of both countries could convene a virtual summit to affirm that the two countries support coordination at subnational level and plan to render full support for developing and accelerating clinical testing for any vaccine, he suggested.

There are signs that the two countries are seeking to ease their strained tensions.

On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met in Hawaii with a veteran Chinese diplomat, Yang Jiechi, who is a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, the first high-level meeting between officials of the two powers since the coronavirus pandemic.

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