Professor Thomas J. Christensen’s policy brief titled “A Modern Tragedy? COVID-19 and U.S.-China Relations” appeared in Brookings this month.
In the brief, Christensen invokes the standards of ancient Greek drama to analyze the COVID-19 pandemic as a potential tragedy in U.S.-China relations and a potential tragedy for the world, in which initial mismanagement of the crisis on both sides of the Pacific and the finger pointing and politically-driven accusations between the world’s two leading powers have not only squandered historic opportunities for cooperation to tackle a common threat, but may be setting the world, and especially impoverished nations, up for catastrophic results.
The brief calls for a ceasefire between Beijing and Washington on criticism of the two countries’ initial responses to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, accompanied by a commitment to an eventual international investigation of what went wrong in all countries during the early phases of the pandemic. The brief concludes with six areas in which the United States and China should seek cooperation: to share best practices to stem the further spread of the coronavirus; to develop effective vaccines at the earliest possible date; to prepare in advance for mass manufacturing and global distribution of vaccines that are developed; to assist the neediest countries in fighting the disease; to manage debt crises and combat famines in the developing world that might result from the pandemic; and to preserve global trade by privileging diversification of supply chains and national strategic reserves over economic nationalism and less efficient forms of production.
To read the executive summary and the brief, click here.