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Is This China’s Global Leadership Moment?

A pandemic is no time to tout the superiority of any country’s governance system or approach, let alone compete for global dominance. Instead of congratulating itself on having pushed back COVID-19, China should quietly win trust by helping the United States and other countries, not out of strategic interest, but on moral grounds.

BEIJING – When he welcomed US President Donald Trump to Beijing’s Forbidden City in 2017, Chinese President Xi Jinping pointed to the character “peace” in the names of all three halls of the great complex, emphasizing the Confucian maxim “Peace is prized above all.”

The world needs to adhere to that idea now more than ever, but its two leading powers are at loggerheads at the worst possible time. Anti-Chinese sentiment permeates American society, and a popular saying in China these days is that if you are not angry at America, you are not patriotic.

Sino-American tensions have become so severe that it can seem as if only an attack on Earth by extra-terrestrials could ease them. Seen from this perspective, perhaps we ought to regard the COVID-19 pandemic as the attack we need. Rather than continuing to engage in a blame game and finger-pointing, which accomplish nothing, China and the United States should be collaborating to find a vaccine or a cure.