Coronavirus Response Is Turning Into A Diplomacy Conflict Between US-China

As the number of globally infected cases due to COVID-19 has now crossed 9,00,000 and the count of death is above 47,000 as, on April 2; several questions are being raised, which is yet to be answered.

Will China takes over the pre-eminent global power the United States, as recently no new deaths have been reported, while the US is now the epicentre of the virus. US President Donald Trump’s injection of 2 trillion dollars into the economy an assertion of not giving up the power to China? Will the European Union, the hardest hit by this pandemic survive in the current condition?

While Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi extending helping hands to other Asian countries emerged as a regional leader in front of the world.

However, Is India in a condition to extend aids to other countries? Well, the answer is simple. India is far too overburdened with its own health challenges, inadequate protective gears, economic slowdown, and the crisis facing its migrant labourers to be able to reach out to anyone right now.

Although India has reached out to South Korea, Maldives and other countries with assistance, we still are standing in a very vulnerable position as the death rate, and infected cases are increasing at a high pace.

US swapping stance

Let’s move back to the Big Two on the world stage-the US and China. The world is looking forward as to how these two superpowers are going to utilize this situation to leverage their position to stand high among other countries.

Interestingly, Donald Trump, who will be facing re-election within eight months, had considerably piped down his speech from two weeks ago when he described COVID-19 as the “China virus”.

Nonetheless, this was not a surprise to anyone who knows about the unstable relation between the two countries.

It seems like the US president is already overburdened with his own Coronavirus Task Force, which remains obsessed with both statistics. As on April 1, the US has crossed 4,000 deaths and above 2,00,000 positive cases of COVID-19.

However, indications are that Trump is already bending his aggressive attack against Beijing because he doesn’t want China to backtrack on its trade deal commitments of buying agricultural produce from the US. According to reports, Trumps seems to understand that the US economy is critical to his own re-election. He is also worried that China might repudiate from the trade deal to buy 80 billion dollars worth of farm and seafood products.

China’s diplomatic attack

Only last week, Trump refused to allow a G-7 response to the coronavirus pandemic because the group did not agree to describe the virus as the “Wuhan virus.”

As for Chinese President Xi Jinping, he is letting his officials do the talking. First to speak out was Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lijian Zhao who blamed the US of bringing the virus to China during the military games in Wuhan in October 2019.

In a strongly-worded tweet, he accused that it was the United States that lacked transparency.

“When did patient zero begin in US? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be the US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation!” Zhao wrote.

Furthermore, China’s ambassador to South Africa Lin Songtian also countered against Trump’s description of the “Chinese virus,” tweeting “When the flu broke out in the US, we never called it the ‘American Flu.’ Some US’ politicians blame game by calling it the ‘Chinese virus’ is groundless and unacceptable,” Lin said.

COVID-19 diplomacy of Beijing

Amidst all this blame game, Beijing is rooting its position by utilizing the crisis to expand its influence abroad. Thousands of mask and testing kits were sent across to several countries in Southeast Asia as a helping aid. It also had sent medical teams to Iran and Iraq, and a 500 million dollars loan has been extended to Sri Lanka.

China has also extended its help to Italy that are miserably hit by the pandemic with planeloads of medical supplies.

The US was pressed when the Chinese media reported about the first planeload of medical supplies from China flew into New York, the current epicentre of the outbreak in the US. The plan carried 12 million gloves, 1,30,000 N95 masks, 1.70 million surgical masks, 50,000 gowns, 130,000 bottles of sanitizers and 36,000 thermometers.

Experts have already started notifying about the US response towards coronavirus pandemic and are comparing with the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. They compare the fact the during Ebola US had send not only medical teams and supplies, but also troops. However, in the case of COVID-19, out of the 2 trillion dollars of the stimulus, only 1.5 billion dollars are allocated for the expenditure outside.

As for India, PM Modi is celebrating his friendship with Trump has evoked some interesting comments among Chinese mandarins. However, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi after having a conversation with his Indian counterpart S. Jaishankar in a series of tweet said that India “agreed not to label” the virus as the “China virus”.

With the US along with other countries blaming China for the virus, will it be able to improve its position and take-over the US?

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