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Cooperate with China or Suffer

Neither confronting a threat that doesn’t respect borders nor safeguarding an economy that is deeply integrated with the rest of the world can be done alone. Yet it remains far from clear that the US will subordinate its geopolitical rivalry with China to these vital objectives.

HONG KONG – As governments worldwide confront the terrible choice between saving lives from COVID-19 and protecting people’s livelihoods, economic indicators highlight the intensity of the dilemma. Unemployment has skyrocketed, trade has plunged, and the global economy is facing its worst downturn since the Great Depression. There is only one way to limit the pandemic’s economic fallout: Sino-American cooperation.

It is no secret that China and the United States have been at odds lately. Since entering the White House, US President Donald Trump’s administration has pursued an aggressive containment strategy, wielding trade barriers as its favorite weapon.

Far from spurring a change of heart, the COVID-19 crisis seems to have deepened the Trump administration’s commitment to antagonism, to the point that blaming China for the outbreak appears to have taken precedence over protecting Americans. In its latest “Strategic Approach to the People’s Republic of China,” the Trump administration reiterated its reasoning: a supposedly “clear-eyed” assessment has confirmed China as a strategic competitor in economic, ideological, and national-security terms.