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As U.S. struggles to stem coronavirus, China asserts itself as global leader

NBC News reports:

With Italy in dire need of medical equipment, an economic superpower stepped in to help.

No, not the United States.

It was China.

Beijing last week promised Rome a thousand ventilators and 2 million masks, part of a global outreach effort that includes massive donations across Africa and a $20 million gift to the World Health Organization earmarked to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

The Trump administration, meanwhile, proposed slashing the U.S. contribution to the WHO last month and has said very little about international cooperation to stop the spread. Instead of providing aid abroad, Trump has been soliciting it. According to a readout by the South Korean government, Trump on Tuesday asked that country’s president if he could provide medical equipment to the U.S.

It was an extraordinary request from a U.S. president and a jarring contrast to the role America usually plays in a global crisis. Meanwhile, international observers have watched as American governors have squabbled with the president over whether he is properly managing the response in his own country.

As those scenes play out daily, China senses a moment of opportunity to portray itself as a powerful and competent player on the world stage, former officials and experts told NBC News.

“We’re bungling this in a fairly open and transparent manner,” said Jude Blanchette, who holds the Freeman Chair in China Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “Beijing’s push for global leadership is able to get so much tailwind by virtue of the relative absence of any U.S. leadership.” [Continue reading…]

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