03/27/2020, 17.03
CHINA – UNITED STATES
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Xi, Trump talk about joining forces against coronavirus

The two leaders spoke on the phone. Washington and Beijing already share experiences and information to fight the COVID-19. Until recently, the US blamed the Chinese for the epidemic. For China’s ambassador to the United States, only a madman" can claim that the coronavirus was produced in a US military laboratory. Xi calls for the removal of tariff barriers. US-Chinese confrontation continues in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – China and the United States should join forces against the COVID-19 pandemic, Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a phone conversation with his US counterpart, Donald Trump. The latter said, in a tweet, that he was willing to work with China.

The two leaders stressed that the health authorities of their respective countries are in constant contact, and are sharing information and experiences about the fight against the disease.

Until recently, the US administration blamed China for causing the coronavirus to spread, by covering up the truth about the early phase of the epidemic, a charge shared by other countries, and by many people in China as well.

Until a few days ago, Trump and members of his cabinet referred to the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus,” which sparked harsh reactions from China.

For Xi, “the virus knows no boundaries and ethnicity, and it is our common enemy. The international community can only defeat it through working together”.

According to several observers, China is playing the victim in order to deflect criticism over its handling of the epidemic.

On 12 March, a Chinese government spokesman on tweeter claimed that US athletes brought the COVID-19 virus to the 2019 Military World Games, held in October in Wuhan.

Following the fallout from accusations and counteraccusations, China’s ambassador in Washington, Cui Tiankai, was the first to try to break the ice and extend an olive branch to the United States.

Last Sunday, in an interview with Axios, China’s point man in Washington said that "only a madman" can claim that the coronavirus was produced in a military laboratory in the United States.

Tensions over the coronavirus come on top of already strained bilateral relations. Two years ago, the Trump administration launched a trade war against the Asian giant, with huge repercussions worldwide.

Washington wants equal treatment for US companies in China, respect for intellectual property, and an end to state subsidies to Chinese companies.

During yesterday's virtual G20 summit, in a not-so-veiled attack on Trump's trade policies, Xi asked his colleagues to remove tariff barriers in order to stimulate trade at such a critical phase.

Amid all this, Washington and Beijing continue to face off in the high seas off the coasts of China.

On Wednesday, a US warship passed through the Taiwan Strait. A few days ago, a US destroyer launched missiles during an exercise in the Philippine Sea.

In the past two months, the US Navy warships have sailed across the South China Sea, which China claims. When they do, US warships are shadowed by Chinese Navy vessels, a situation that increases the chance of incidents.

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