In Diplomatic Whipsaw, U.S. and China Seek to Cooperate on Pandemic and Economy

Chinese officials are trumpeting the truce while denouncing Mr. Pompeo, Peter Navarro, a hawkish trade adviser, and other American officials who have continued to criticize China this week, even if their barbs have been more muted. Representatives of the Chinese Foreign Ministry this week have referred constantly to the telephone call between Mr. Trump and Mr. Xi in news conferences in Beijing.

“The two heads of state agreed that under current circumstances, China and the U.S. should stand united and fight Covid-19,” Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said Tuesday, referring to the disease caused by the virus.

She noted that Ma Xiaowei, the minister of China’s National Health Commission, spoke on Monday with Alex M. Azar II, the U.S. secretary of health and human services, “to exchange ideas on the two countries’ pandemic prevention and control efforts.”

The truce is limited to actions related to the virus and does not extend to other parts of the increasingly tense relationship between the United States and China. American officials who have long advocated an aggressive stand toward China are still intent on pushing back against Beijing on many fronts, including technology, espionage and military expansionism in Asia.

In a cabinet-level meeting last week, administration officials approved a draft rule that would extend export control restrictions to foreign companies that use American technology, a measure aimed at choking off supplies to Huawei, the Chinese technology company. The move still needs Mr. Trump’s approval.

And last Thursday, Mr. Trump signed into law an act that requires the United States to lend stronger diplomatic support to Taiwan, the self-governing democratic island claimed by China. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, said the United States should “correct its mistakes” or “inevitably encounter a resolute strike back by China.”

American intelligence officials also assess that as the Chinese government retreats from its overt anti-American messages involving the virus, it is likely to continue to push those online by covert means.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/02/us/politics/coronavirus-trump-china.html

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