Why accusing China of delaying global response to COVID-19 isn't fair
Mustafa Hyder Sayed
Editor's note: The Trump administration has repeatedly criticized China for its response to COVID-19. Recently, U.S. HHS Secretary Alex Azar, during his controversial visit to Taiwan, once again berated China for "choosing not to work with the world on dealing with the pandemic." Such comments have become overused tactics in the U.S. government's playbook to deflect from its own COVID-19 debacle. China's handling of the pandemic was surely in no way perfect, just like that of any other country. However, China has in fact led the global response to the COVID-19 in many senses. Mustafa Hyder Sayed, executive director of the Pakistan-China Institute, shared his views on the issue. The opinions he expressed in the video were only his own, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.
CGTN: The U.S. alleges that China's "mishandling" of the COVID-19 outbreak has affected global response to the coronavirus. What is your view?
Mustafa Hyder Sayed: China's response has been exemplary when it comes to the global response in the pandemic. I think China has led the global response to the pandemic. It has shown global leadership. And President Xi's speech in the World Health Assembly was exemplary and unique in the sense that he announced that 30 hospitals of China are going to partner with 30 hospitals with Africa. He announced that a green channel will be established with certain countries, for fast commerce, and exchange of goods and services. So the pandemic does not become an obstacle or an impediment.
And President Xi also announced over two billion dollars as a fund for the COVID-19 pandemic. So I think that China's response has been that of a world leader and it has led the response post-COVID-19, which traditionally the United States would have done in the past. So it was interesting this time that there was a contrast in the response between the U.S. and the PRC. The U.S. response was inward-looking. They are retracting from international organizations, from international cooperation whereas China is moving forward in strengthening international cooperation.
And in the World Health Assembly President Xi said that the world must strengthen the WHO both politically and financially. So I see that there is, one is a perspective or narrative of multilateral cooperation as the way forward and the other is that of receding from intellectual organizations and mechanisms.
Obviously, the future of the world is a future where everyone has to work collectively together. No one country or one leader or one scientist has the solution to fight the pandemic. It has to be a collective effort; it has to be an effort where people and countries and nations are working together. The future of the world will depend on this. And also, I think the people-centric approach, which we have seen in Wuhan and other cities in China, of lives first, of people first is very, very important, because the lives of the people are greater than the economy.
CGTN: Why do you think the U.S. has stepped up its attacks against China?
Sayed: See, there are elections coming in the United States in November. When you talk about elections, you have to look at the context of the political environment and how polarized it is in the United States. And China is a big factor in the elections.
As you know, the Trump campaign has made a website called beijingbiden.com, which tries to link Joe Biden, the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party, with China. And then the Trump administration, or the Trump campaign, is also trying to link Biden's son with having business ties with China. And Joe Biden is doing the same and trying to say how Trump has been too soft on China. So each of the candidates are trying to outdo the other in terms of China bashing.
I think there's a direct correlation between China bashing and popularity in the polls. So we have to look at the domestic political situation of the United States, and how the domestic politics are being externalized and projected internationally.
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