By Yannan Collins
As the Coronavirus outbreak in China draws attention around the world, many countries have taken actions to help their nationals in China and to help Beijing in this epidemic. The US, however, has received public criticism from China in its own response to the outbreak.
In late January, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CSC) issued the highest travel warning to China; Soon after, all US airlines suspended China flights; the State Department then introduced a 14-day quarantine for any citizen or permanent resident traveling from Hubei Province in China; and proceeded to suspend visa services and deny all entry to foreign nations who have been to China in past 14 days.
On February 3rd, China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying commented on US early response to the outbreak, stating that “some countries… the US in particular, have inappropriately overreacted, which certainly runs counter to WHO advice…the US government hasn’t provided any substantive assistance to us, but it was the first to evacuate personnel from its consulate in Wuhan, the first to suggest partial withdrawal of its embassy staff and the first to impose a travel ban on Chinese travelers. “
This press conference sparkle the controversy as US media outlets claimed that China faults US stance on coronavirus.
Has the US helped China?
Material-wise, China received large donations from US corporations, non-profits, and Chinese American communities once the coronavirus outbreak hit international headlines. According to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, by February 2nd, China received more than 1 billion towards fight coronavirus; among the donation, 380 million from US corporations. 10 million worth of medical supplied from the NBA, despite the disagreement with Chiese officials on the resolution of Dyral Morey’s anti-China tweet last October.
However, the aid was not from the US government.
On Feb 7th, 4 days after China’s Foreign Ministry’s comment, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the US would pledge 100 million in aid to help China and other countries dealing with the epidemic.
“This commitment — along with hundreds of millions generously donated by the American private sector — demonstrates strong U.S. leadership in response to the outbreak.” Pompeo stated.
At the same time, The US Embassy and consulate in China stated that “…the State Department has facilitated the transportation of nearly 17.8 tons of donated medical supplies to the Chinese people, including masks, gowns, gauze, respirators, and other vital materials. “
More specifically, “has facilitated” means the second flight, to evacuate US citizens in the city, brought medical supplies donated by corporations and non-profit organizations. According to the Wall Street Journal, the donations were from Boeing, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Samaritan’s Purse. Considering the passengers will eventually pay for the flight, the State Department can only say it “has facilitated.”
Until today, there is no report on any direct donations officially from the US government.
Cooperation among US and Chinese scientists has been established in analyzing medical cases, modeling the spread of the virus, or developing the vaccine. China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ge Shuang also encourages such work, “China has been active and open towards cooperation with the US. Since the epidemic broke out, the health authorities of the two sides have been in close communication on policies, timely exchanging information on the epidemic, with the heads of the departments having talked through phone calls and messages.”
In addition, WHO medical experts have arrived in China to help respond to the coronavirus outbreak but this has not included the United States, who complained they were being left out. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the DCD offered to send medical experts to China but was ignored. “We’re disappointed that we haven’t been invited in,” said Larry Kudlow.
Beijing did not offer any comment to Kudlow’s remarks, yet officials have indicated it was America who has been refused to help. Chinese Ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai expressed his concerns about US-China relations and its impact on the coronavirus, criticizing Washington’s response: “I think clearly there is a need for the two countries to cooperate because this is a challenge to the entire international community…But, but, there’s a big but. For some politicians here in this country, maybe for some people in the media, I’m sorry to say that, they are not being so helpful.”
Of course, at root of this situation lies politics and in that context things have not been well between the two countries. The US-China relationship has been suffering due to a deficit of trust and growing tensions, which has included Trump’s trade and technology wars against Beijing, increased suspicion against Chinese within America, attacks on Huawei and support for protesters in Hong Kong.
This has been difficult to mask, with Wilbur Ross touting the outbreak as an opportunity for the trade war and hawkish senators such as Josh Hawley urging “decoupling” from China’s economy in the midst of it. Some in America are compassionate, but others see it as an opportunity. Whilst Beijing itself may well feel that relying on American support is an open confession of weakness during a time where it aims to present a strong front against its recent policies.