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Experts urge US to put end to blame game

 Two sessions likely to unveil policies for development, deliberate on bilateral ties

The divide between Beijing and Washington amid the COVID-19 pandemic could be a hot topic at the upcoming two sessions-China's biggest annual political event-when lawmakers and political advisers discuss how the country responds to external environment, experts said.

The United States should stop the blame game and work along with the international community, including China, to jointly combat the novel coronavirus outbreak in a bid to save more lives in the US and protect the safety and health of all mankind, they said.

Stephen Roach, a senior fellow at Yale University's Jackson Institute of Global Affairs, told China Daily that by repeatedly blaming China for COVID-19, the US administration is trying to avoid accepting responsibility for its own gross mismanagement of this tragic pandemic.

"As such, it distorts the Chinese role in this global pandemic while ducking the moral equivalence of three months of denial and misrepresentation of fact and scientific analysis by America's own leadership," Roach said. "This is a political ploy, aimed at the upcoming presidential election in November."

Deputies to the National People's Congress, the nation's top legislature, and the members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the top political advisory body, will gather in Beijing later this week. It is likely China will use the event to unveil key policies for its socioeconomic development amid the pandemic.

As the pandemic still rages globally, the changing external environment has posed challenges for China to secure the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all aspects and shaking off absolute poverty before the end of this year.

On the top of various complicated factors is the China-US relationship, which became tense due to the months-old trade disputes and has been exacerbated following the outbreak of the epidemic.

Experts attributed the deterioration of ties between the world's two largest economies to the "political virus" in the US administration coupled with the mounting number of confirmed infections and deaths due to the disease. The US has reported more than 1.45 million COVID-19 cases and over 88,000 fatalities.

US politicians and officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have recently ramped up their anti-China rhetoric, spared no effort to connect the virus with China and want to hold China accountable for the contagion.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee recently issued a 57-page document as part of an aggressive campaign attacking China for the US' coronavirus crisis.

In an article published by the Washington Post on May 6, Chinese Ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai said that behind the mindset of "always blame China "is a kind of dirty politics, championed by a few people who shift the spotlight for political gain.

"Blaming China will not end this pandemic. On the contrary, the mindset risks decoupling China and the United States and hurting our efforts to fight the disease, our coordination to reignite the global economy, our ability to conquer other challenges and our prospects of a better future," Cui said.

Noting that the US would not emerge as a winner from this scenario, the ambassador said: "It is time to end the blame game. It is time to focus on the disease and rebuild trust between our two countries".

Roach also expressed his worries about the ongoing China-US relations and said "I have never been more pessimistic than I am today" during his analysis of US-China relations over the past 25 years. "An unnecessary trade war has morphed into the blame game of a coronavirus war."

He said the COVID-19 pandemic needs to be addressed as a global problem requiring collaborative solutions between nations. "As the two largest economies in the world, the US and China have the moral obligation to work together-not just for their own citizens but for all of humankind."

In a telephone conversation with US President Donald Trump on March 27, President Xi Jinping said that the China-US relationship has reached an important juncture. Xi expressed the hope that the US will take substantive steps to improve the relationship and work with China to strengthen cooperation in epidemic response to build a relationship that is non-confrontational and based on mutual respect and win-win cooperation.

Despite his pessimism about the current state of China-US relations, Roach said he is unwilling to concede that all is lost. Saying the US and China are deeply intertwined in a codependent economic relationship, he added that both countries would need to make efforts to convert distrust back into trust.

"The chances are increasingly slim, but I have not given up hope that the leaders of the two countries can ultimately comprehend what's at stake and seize this opportunity-before it is too late," Roach said.

He suggested that the two countries need to collaborate to end the trade war as a mutual act of good faith, restore tariffs to pre-trade war levels and share epidemic-related information by constructing an international database on COVID-19 infections, mortality and demographic incidence.

They should also come together for joint scientific research on anti-viral medication and vaccines and work through existing international organizations to build a true global coalition to address the global pandemic, Roach added.

China has made it clear to the world that it upholds multilateralism and international cooperation in the fight against the pandemic. The country has taken real actions to share disease-related information with international organizations, including the World Health Organization, and other countries including the US, and to provide aid and expertise to epidemic-hit nations, the Foreign Ministry has said on various occasions.

In response to a question about Trump's recent remarks that he might cut the relationship with China, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Friday that a steady and growing China-US relationship serves the fundamental interests of the two peoples and is conducive to world peace and stability.

"At present, China and the US should strengthen cooperation to prevail over the pandemic at an early date, and focus on saving lives and resuming economic development and production," Zhao said at a news conference. "This, of course, calls for the US and China working together toward the same goal."

In a letter recently published by The New York Times, more than 70 US and Chinese public health scholars urged the US and China to cooperate in tackling COVID-19.

"Diseases know no borders; supply chains are internationally embedded; and crisis management necessitates intergovernmental collaboration and data sharing among scientists," the letter said.

Fu Ying, vice-chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the 13th National People's Congress, said that both China and the US are facing a difficult and challenging moment in their relations.

From a long-term perspective, they should return to the consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, and make joint efforts to build a relationship based on stability, coordination and cooperation, Fu said in a recent interview with the Beijing-based newspaper Reference News.

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