Coronavirus: US ambassador to China appeals for Beijing, Washington to work together

Orange Wang

The United States’ ambassador to China has appealed for the two countries to cooperate in the fight against the coronavirus, and called for the supply of Chinese medical supplies to the US to be accelerated.

In an open letter titled “Move Forward Together” published on Friday, Terry Branstad said he had spoken to China’s vice-minister for foreign affairs Zheng Zeguang about the matter over the past week.

The exchange came after US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed in a telephone call last week to work together to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I underscored that now is the time to look forward,” Branstad wrote in the article, which was published on the website of the US embassy in China.

He also expressed his appreciation for China’s efforts to expedite the supply of much-needed medical supplies.

The US embassy in Beijing was “working closely with Chinese government officials” to facilitate the shipment of vital personal protection gear from China to the US, he said.

“No one country can fight this battle alone.”

With more than 270,000 confirmed cases and over 7,000 deaths, the US is now the nation worst hit by the global health crisis.

It is also facing a massive shortage of medical gear, such as N95 masks and ventilators, and the Trump administration is looking for suppliers around the world.

The US Food and Drug Administration made a dramatic change of course on Friday, saying it would now allow KN95 masks to be imported from China, despite stating the exact opposite on March 28.

In his letter, Branstad said Covid-19 was a “common enemy” that threatened the lives of everyone.

Wuhan lockdown led to dramatic cut in spread of coronavirus, researchers say

The tone of the open letter is in stark contrast to the rhetoric used by the US embassy in China on March 26, when it posted a quote by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in which he again referred to the coronavirus as the “Wuhan virus”.

The post, which attracted more than 70,000 comments from angry Chinese, came even after Trump had stopped using the phrase “Chinese virus” to describe the pathogen.

Hua Sheng, honorary dean of the economics school at Southeast University in Nanjing, said Beijing should continue to help other countries fight Covid-19.

“From now on, it is necessary ... to actively help other countries to carry out their work in fighting the epidemic,” he said.

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