China calls for ‘concrete steps’ from US over COVID-19 fight

Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) holds a grand ceremony to welcome U.S. President Donald Trump at the square outside the east gate of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Nov. 9, 2017

Beijing, (SW) Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday called on the US to take concrete steps to push forward cooperation to contain the coronavirus pandemic, and said he was concerned about the outbreak in America, pledging Beijings support.

Xi and his US counterpart Donald Trump spoke by phone on Friday in an attempt to ease tensions following weeks of finger pointing over the pandemic, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) newspaper said in a report.

Xi told Trump that China had been transparent and responsible in its release of information, including the gene sequence of the coronavirus, since the start of the outbreak, and had provided assistance to other nations, the SCMP report quoted China’s state broadcaster CCTV as saying.

The call comes in the wake of a grim milestone where the US has surpassed China, where the virus originated last December, in terms of confirmed cases.

According to the latest updates by the John Hopkins University, the US has a total of 85,505 cases, while China has 81,782. The overall death toll in the US and China currently stands at 1,290 and 3,291, respectively.

In the call, Xi said: “The virus knows no boundaries and ethnicity, and it is our common enemy. The international community can only defeat it through working together.

“The relationship of China and the US is at a critical juncture. Cooperation is mutually beneficial to both nations, while fighting will hurt. Cooperation is the only correct choice.

“It is hoped that the US will take concrete actions to improve China-US relations, and the two sides will work together to strengthen cooperation in areas such as epidemic control.”

Xi said he was concerned about the outbreak in the US and health officials from two sides were in constant communication, said the SCMP reported citing the CCTV as saying.

“China is willing to continue to share information and experience with the US without reservation,” he said.

Following the conversation, Trump took to Twitter where he said: “Just finished a very good conversation with President Xi of China. Discussed in great detail the coronavrus that is ravaging large parts of our planet.

“China has been through much and has developed a strong understanding of the virus. We are working closely together. Much respect.”

Chinese and American officials have been trading accusations over handling of the crisis in recent weeks, the SCMP report said.

The US has criticised China, where the outbreak was first reported, for its slow initial response and attempts to silence people who raised the alarm about the pandemic.

But Beijing has said it informed the US in early January, according to the SCMP report.

Trump also angered Beijing by describing COVID as the “Chinese virus”.