BEIJING (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi reiterated Beijing's opposition to "vaccine nationalism", and its commitment to making its Covid-19 vaccines a global public good in his afternoon news conference on Sunday (March 7).
He called on "all capable countries" to "try their best to provide vaccines for those in need, make them affordable, accessible to people of all countries", and turn them into true "people's vaccines".
China, on its part, has provided and is providing vaccine aid free of charge to 69 developing countries in urgent need, while also exporting vaccines to 43 countries.
Wang's call for vaccine cooperation was general and in principle with no mention of specific partners. But besides China, the United States stands out among all other countries as being capable of producing and providing Covid-19 vaccines. Despite the differences between them, China and the US have every reason to work together and demonstrate leadership when the world needs it the most.
In spite of the Joe Biden administration's Interim National Security Guidance singling out China as the greatest potential threat to US national interests, the administration has simultaneously underlined the need and its willingness to collaborate with China on issues of mutual interest, which should include addressing the common public health threat.
Covid-19 is a clear and present danger to both countries and the broader international community. The urgency of the matter makes it a natural starting point for China and the US to reengage.
A recent paper co-authored and submitted to the 2021 Hong Kong Forum on US-China Relations by the director and associate director of Brookings' John L. Thornton China Centre, on March 2, offered "Ten Reasons the US and China Should Cooperate Now to Stop the Pandemic".
The paper argued that cooperation between the world's largest developing and developed nations will boost global synergy, data sharing, vaccine research and development, and equitable vaccine distribution, and facilitate the making of safety rules for international travel.
It also pointed out a significant additional benefit of bilateral cooperation - creating a constructive atmosphere for China-US collaboration in other areas such as climate change.
The two sides' mutual perceptions have changed drastically over the past few years, and they are keenly aware of the competitive aspect of their relationship, but both are equally conscious of the undesirable outcomes if they categorically rule out cooperation. They now need to demonstrate reason and pragmatism.
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