A virtual meeting between the top epidemiologists of China and the US, Zhong Nanshan and Anthony Fauci, aims to kick off official cooperation on fighting the pandemic, a move hailed by experts as a warming sign amid frozen ties.
Speaking in an interview on Sunday, Zhong, China's top respiratory disease expert, said that he will talk with Fauci, now US President Joe Biden's chief medical adviser on COVID-19, in March.
Zhong said that he looks forward to the dialogue with Fauci, adding that they share some similar views. Zhong has been called the "Dr. Fauci of China" by some Western media due to their similar roles in leading the battle against the epidemic in China and the US.
The Chinese epidemiologist also acknowledged the move by Biden to make the anti-epidemic campaign a top priority for the US, and hoped the easing policies to be launched by the government could ensure people's livelihoods while also effectively controlling the epidemic.
The Global Times learned from Zhong's team that he will meet Fauci at an event jointly held by the University of Edinburgh and the Edinburgh Futures Institute in the UK on March 2, where the two experts will speak at the opening session.
Zhong said that the easing of the epidemic in the US will have a positive impact on the country, the world and China-US relations, especially for exchanges between Chinese and US scholars.
The meeting was hailed by Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of China Foreign Affairs University, as a move to kick off bilateral cooperation on fighting against COVID-19.
"The two experts provide scientific advice to their respective governments. Positive feedback will help open the door for conversation between people at the policy decision-making level," said Li. He added that vaccines will also feature on the agenda of the conversation in March.
"Countries all over the world have a different pace of vaccination. The two are also likely to talk about speeding up the global vaccination drive. No one can welcome a full comeback from the pandemic if there are still countries battling the virus."
The expert also said that it is part of the Biden government's goodwill in terms of containing the coronavirus.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Friday night (US time) that mask-wearing will be required on all public transportation beginning on Monday night.
The mandate was made after Biden issued an executive order on January 21 that called for "immediate action" on mask-wearing for "all forms of public transportation."
The virus is still rife in the US, and China, which emerged strongest from the pandemic, is the best partner the US can find to fight the disease with, according to Li.
Observers on China-US relations have long speculated that cooperation on fighting against COVID-19 would help the two nations open a wider range of dialogue after Biden took office.
Speaking to the Global Times in early December, Huang Renwei from the Fudan Institute of Belt and Road & Global Governance pointed out that fighting against COVID-19 will help improve China-US ties.
"Comprehensive cooperation between China and the US on COVID-19 is difficult, but cooperation can be done at the state level," Huang said.