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(EDITORIAL from Korea Joongang Daily on May 6)

All News 07:08 May 06, 2020

The elephants are fighting

The world is splintering over the coronavirus outbreak. Western society led by the United States is pitted against China, blaming it for the spread of the deadly virus.

President Donald Trump is trumpeting the theory that the virus originated from a lab in Wuhan. His state secretary Mike Pompeo claimed to have "enormous evidence" pointing to the infectious disease originating in a lab in Wuhan. Leaked research compiled by the so-called "Five Eyes" intelligence alliance of English-speaking countries -- the United States, Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand -- concluded that China intentionally hid or destroyed evidence of the coronavirus outbreak. China's state-run CCTV lambasted the claims.

The COVID-19 pandemic landed at a time when the United States and China were trying to end their protracted trade war. Their power struggle prompted by the fast ascension of China has caused woes for trading countries like Korea. Devastated by the virus outbreak, the United States and Europe mounted attacks on China for hiding news of the virus, which was first known in November. China accuses the U.S. Army of spreading COVID-19. Various states and governments have lodged class action suits amounting to US$26 trillion against China for the creation and release of the infectious disease. The United States has threatened to cut off funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) after it repeatedly defended Beijing. China irked Western governments further after Chinese capital went after multinational companies when their stocks became cheaper.

This blame game helps no one. The world must unite to combat the virus and restore the economy after a worldwide standstill. International commerce has been wrecked due to lockouts and lockdowns. Conflict between the two largest economies will make matters worse.

The origin of the disease must be thoroughly investigated to prevent further infectious outbreaks. But accusations without strong evidence does not behoove the United States. China also cannot be relied on if it does not ensure transparency.

The two governments must share information and work together to restore the global economy. But that may not be possible as their pride is on the line. Korea usually bears the biggest bruises when those two countries fight, like after the installing of a U.S. antimissile system. Worse may be in the making. Seoul must draw up comprehensive strategy to steer us through the storm.

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