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US and China should fight coronavirus, not each other

Experience from SARS in 2003 shows long-term benefits of cooperation

| China
Donald Trump holds news conference on the coronavirus outbreak on Feb. 26: what might an effective global coordination program look like?   © Reuters

Many of us are appalled by the amount of energy the Chinese and U.S. governments are wasting on efforts to criticize each other over the COVID-19 crisis. Pandemic posturing has got ugly, and is now getting in the way of an effective worldwide response. Instead of finger-pointing, leading world governments should be banding closer together, including through the G-20, to urgently develop a common plan of action.

In 2003 I was the senior action officer at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing in charge of coordinating America's in-country response to the SARS epidemic. We faced three challenges: helping U.S. citizens weather the crisis; convincing the Chinese government to share information; and providing technical and scientific support to China's health authorities.

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