Pompeo is lying about China's refusal to cooperate
Updated 22:50, 28-Apr-2020
Tom Fowdy

Editor's note: Tom Fowdy is a British political and international relations analyst and a graduate of Durham and Oxford universities. He writes on topics pertaining to China, the DPRK, Britain, and the U.S. The article reflects the author's opinions, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

In a Fox News interview on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo again accused China of failing to be transparent and cooperate concerning the COVID-19. Writing a summary of the exchange on Twitter, Pompeo stated: "The CCP needs to be transparent as the world seeks answers to #COVID19 and its origins. We don't know the history. We haven't been able to get our team on the ground to do the work that it needs to do. #China has a responsibility to cooperate."

However, yet again, America's top diplomat is being deeply dishonest. He is playing to a political gallery than to facts. Firstly, behind the scenes American scientists are in fact working directly with Chinese counterparts to discover the origin of the virus.

This cooperation comes with the Trump administration having previously slashed funding for American disease efforts in China and stifled other forms of collaboration in pursuit of the country's technology war against China.

As a report laid out in the Financial Times notes: "U.S. scientists are working with China to investigate the origin of coronavirus, despite criticism from the Trump administration that Beijing is failing to cooperate with outsiders to stem the disease."

The piece states that Columbia University's School of Public Health is cooperating with Chinese researchers and the country's Center for Disease Control (CDC). As its director, Ian Lipkin, who also worked on SARS and MERS notes: "The China CDC is interested in learning as much as it can about the origins [of] these types of viruses."

Secondly, have the United States government truly pledged to cooperate themselves? Despite portraying this as a one-sided failure on Beijing's behalf, it was reported back in March that the Trump administration cut staff by two thirds at the Beijing office of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reducing from 47 staff to 14, according to Reuters.

Screenshot of Reuters report.

Screenshot of Reuters report.

"The losses included epidemiologists and other health professionals" and the government reduced the organization to "a shell of its former self," Reuters reported. The same report also found that America's National Science Foundation (NSF) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) were also hit with cuts and forced closures in their China operations.

The Reuters report continues by quoting an anonymous official, who stated: "We had a large operation of experts in China who were brought back during this administration, some of them months before the outbreak… You have to consider the possibility that our drawdown made this catastrophe more likely or more difficult to respond to."

Reasons behind the cuts likely included "America First" politics as brandished by the administration, but also its technology war against Beijing which has sought to stifle all forms of scientific and technological cooperation with China in the pursuit of geopolitical motivations.

Just look at Pompeo's rhetoric with the news of the administration's cuts to the World Health Organization, as well as the recent development as reported by Politico that the administration "abruptly cut off funding for a project studying how coronaviruses spread from bats to people" motivated by a conspiracy theory which the Presidency is actively spreading that the program was linked to a Wuhan laboratory which "leaked" the virus.

Does all the above look like a sincere effort at cooperation on behalf of Washington? Pompeo rarely, if ever, comes honest with the facts. There is scientific cooperation now ongoing between the U.S. and China concerning the virus, but the White House, in the name of its geopolitical confrontation with Beijing, has sought to aggressively downgrade and stifle scientific collaboration with China.

The administration thus in turn must answer for its own mistakes and also observe how its own foreign policy approaches and negligence served to stifle its own ability to identify and respond to the virus. The evidence is damning.

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