US President Donald Trump standing with members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force team, speaks during a press briefing in the press briefing room of the White House on March 14 in Washington, DC. (Photo: AFP)
US President Donald Trump has shifted his tone. He said he would stop using the term "Chinese virus" and decided "we shouldn't make any more of a big deal out of it," in an interview with Fox News on Tuesday. This change is of positive significance. We hope Trump could urge other US senior officials to follow suit and not use slurs such as "Chinese virus" or "Wuhan virus," that are widely considered racist, anymore.
China and the US have been engaged in a war of words recently and the US is to blame. If Trump's altered tone can lead other US officials to reduce their verbal attacks on China, it's believed Chinese officials would respond positively.
The novel coronavirus pandemic is spreading out of control globally. The world is keen to see China and the US shelve disputes and join hands to fight the virus. If the two big powers can turn to cooperation from discord, that will surely inspire the international community and also benefit the two countries.
But we are worried that Trump's adjustment may be a temporary tactic. It is well known that his repeated use of the "Chinese virus" has backfired in the US. Not only the Democrats, but also US mainstream public opinion, have poured a ton of criticism on their president. Asian Americans in the US are particularly irritated as the slur Trump used would fuel xenophobia and worsen their situation.
These public reactions have exerted substantial pressure on Trump's reelection bid. Meanwhile, the US now risks becoming the new epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic with its domestic situation worsening day by day. Intensifying conflicts with China at this time would do more harm to the US. The US is in dire need of medical materials such as facial masks and ventilators, and China is a major supplier. This has also increased pressure on Washington.
Therefore, concerns that Trump's change is out of expediency are not unwarranted. Nonetheless, it's a positive move made by Washington amid the current China-US stalemate. We welcome any change by the US side that could help alleviate China-US frictions, and hope Washington could make more efforts to reduce bilateral tensions.
Regardless of from which perspective, China and the US working together to fight the pandemic is more in the interest of Americans. The novel coronavirus is a common enemy that people haven't fully known. No country can win the virus fight alone. China-US cooperation will undoubtedly be mutually beneficial and in line with the interests of all people. Its gains will be dwarfed by its losses if Washington resorts to conflicting China to fight the epidemic.
China has brought the situation under control while the US is becoming the new epicenter. Central China's Hubei Province lifted its lockdown on Wednesday, so will its capital Wuhan in two weeks, but the US is just beginning its various stringent restrictions. At this time, if Washington continues to intensify tensions with China and create obstacles for epidemic control cooperation, it will worsen the US domestic political climate.
We hope Trump's promise could serve as an opportunity for the US to adjust its policy toward China at least during the pandemic. The so-called China threat, which has been maliciously exaggerated, is not as real as the threat of coronavirus. The latter is unleashing its destruction in the US and it's the true ferocious enemy of the US.
A special G20 summit on COVID-19 will be held on Thursday and is expected to come up with effective measures to jointly fight the wide spread of the novel coronavirus. As the two most powerful countries, China and the US should stand together to inspire other countries, coordinate international assistance, cooperate on vaccine and medicine development. This is the obligation that they should assume for their societies and the entire international community.
Defeating the coronavirus is the common expectation of all mankind. All countries are called on to join hands in the fight. It's hoped the US government could follow the trend when formulating its policies.