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We must all work together

The pandemic COVID-19 has reminded the world that international cooperation is essential in health and environmental matters. Once limited mostly to the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of Korea, it was ignored by the American government until February 2020, despite the fact that the virus was growing in December 2019 in China.

Part of the reason that Americans ignored the peril was that it involved China. Early reporting stressed the failure of Chinese bureaucrats in the Wuhan province. Americans were treated to an “only in China narrative” that extended to analyzing a meat market that contained a number of delicacies, including bats.

A great deal of the reporting on the Coronavirus focused on the possible impact on the Communist party of China — not the medical impact. Chinese warnings were discounted, and its figures concerning infection were ignored and questioned.

Given the political focus, the Coronavirus was under-reported in the United States. If anything it was treated more as a medical Hong Kong, just another example of the evils of the Communist system. Indeed the administration of Donald Trump refused to accept help when the World Health Organization offered its virus testing kits. Indeed, Trump conflated the pandemic with his conversation concerning the Ukraine. It was all in its way “fake news.”

Eventually Trump, recognizing that fear was beginning to drive the narrative, especially concerning the stock market, quickly declared a state of emergency, and although Trump stands out in his initial discounting of the crisis had plenty of friends along the political spectrum.

To the president’s credit, he did not, as did a few commentators on the left and right, take the moment to take cheap shots against Xi Jinping, China’s president. Although his pugnacious Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did not hesitate to take a swipe or two at China.

Indeed, because XI took aggressive action, the pandemic slowed. And as Europe and the United States get deeper into the crisis, China is pulling out of its distress. China has sent health personnel to Italy and to Iran, sharing its experience.

Far from appearing weak, China was able to test more than the United States despite having a population of 1.4 billion. Russia has also behaved aggressively, vigorously enforcing curfews and threatening those who break it with one year in prison if a person is infected and five years if they die.

China used the WHO tests while the United States arrogantly decided to order its own test despite the mounting threat. The original attempt at a detection system by the Center for Disease Control failed. But better late than never, and now the United States is vigorously attempting to stem the tide.

The lesson to be learned is to cooperate rather then confront. Because China has a disease does not mean it won’t spread to the United States. Ideological and Cold War thinking still interrupts the cooperation between nations. Diversity of systems are essential if the human race is to confront the threats of pandemics and environmental disaster.

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