Opinion: We're in this coronavirus fight together

Tom Watkins
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The people of China are hurting and dying because of the coronavirus. What the virus clearly demonstrates is that what happens in China does not stay in China. The world is as entwined. 

Human life is very fragile. This “war” without bombs is spreading. We have nine confirmed deaths in the U.S., all In Washington state, with more likely.

The coronavirus pain is washing across the globe. No wall on our Southern border will protect Americans against a pandemic and the economic meltdown that is rippling from the epicenter in Wuhan, China and lapping upon our shores.

We are in this fight together.

Locals wait to buy face masks in Hong Kong on  Feb. 5. Fear of the spreading coronavirus has led to a global run on sales of face masks despite medical experts' advice that most people who aren't sick don't need to wear them.

The Chinese people are fighting a war without bombs that has caused hardship that is hard to fathom from a sound bite on the nightly news. The world needs to join with the Chinese people in this fight.

We need leaders that will rally the world, to join forces to combat this global scourge.

The Chinese word for “crisis” consists of two characters meaning “danger” and “opportunity.” We face both today. 

The U.S./China relationship is the most important bilateral relationship in the world today. There is an opportunity to turn the coronavirus crisis to an opportunity that will benefit the people of China, America and all of humanity.

Our respective leaders could shock the world and be as bold as they are imaginative not playing the typical playground game of see-saw where one nation’s misfortune is the other nation’s momentary gain.

President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping during a meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, Saturday, June 29, 2019.

This crisis is an opportunity to choose a new path. The “road less traveled” to truly shake the world. 

The old path is to view China as struggling and as an opportunity to return to the century of humiliation and leap frog past her. Yet, the geopolitical reality for the U.S. is a weak China is more dangerous to the world than a prosperous and thriving China.

Leadership could turn a global crisis into an opportunity to truly shake the world. We are in this war together. Great leaders take risks and do the unconventional.

President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping should call the world leaders to a summit in neutral Switzerland and forge a global plan forward that can lift all boats.

The world faces epic choices, and these choices will define our respective countries and the world for generations to come. 

Tom Watkins has a lifelong interest in China and has worked for nearly four decades building cultural, educational and economic ties between the two nations. He is a former Michigan state superintendent of public education.

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