AS the world continues to struggle against the Covid-19 pandemic, the US and China are engaged in a word war that has caused division among nations.
Beyond sword words, the two superpowers have intensified their conflict in two stages: World Health Organization and South China Sea. Not counting the ongoing trade war.
During the recent World Health Assembly, the contrasting positions of the two countries were demonstrated. China’s leader Xi Jinping pledged $2 billion for the entire world for Covid-19 and promised to send doctors and medical supplies to Africa and other countries in the developing world. He committed full cooperation with WHO in fighting the coronavirus. US President Donald Trump, in response to China’s generosity, labelled WHO as a lapdog of China and threatened to permanently cut off US funding, as well as, revoke his country’s membership if it fails to “commit to substantive improvements within the next 30 days.”
The two-day virtual meeting concluded with a resolution co-sponsored by more than 130 countries, declaring that global unity is the most powerful tool to combat the outbreak. But Trump does not agree, even as he has utterly failed in containing the coronavirus in his country.
It is a different story though in the South China Sea, as China has once again renewed its naval presence, thereby escalating tension in the contested waters. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Trumpian-style fired off, accusing China’s leadership of “exploiting the world’s focus on the Covid-19 crisis by continuing its provocative behavior.” And to further provoke China, Pompeo sent a written statement that was read during the second term inauguration of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, congratulating “Her courage and vision in leading Taiwan’s vibrant democracy is an inspiration to the region and the world.” China called Pompeo’s action a serious violation of the “one-China” policy that is the foundation of US-China relations.
It must be difficult for nations to decide on which superpower they will side with Donald Trump, a capitalist, is more of a showman than a leader, whose antics are neither entertaining nor inspiring. Xi Jinping is a communist whose money diplomacy has worked magic not just among underdeveloped and developing states, but even those in the First World.
If the tension between China and the US escalates further in these Covid times, we may all be heading from pandemic to pandemonium. Everyone suffers.