when the US/UK/China, etc. sneezes, Japan/Germany, etc. catches cold

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when the US/UK/China, etc. sneezes, Japan/Germany, etc. catches cold

or

when the US/UK/China, etc. sneezes, Japan/Germany, etc. catches a cold

mainly BRITISH
If you say that when a particular country sneezes, another catches cold, or catches a cold, you mean that what happens to the first country has a great effect or influence on the second. And when the American economy sneezes, the City of London catches cold. As they say, when America sneezes the rest of the world catches a cold.
See also: catch, cold