The burgeoning cold war with China just got frostier over the past 24 hours.
The Trump campaign has made clear that it intends to hammer China in the general election. On Tuesday night, as reported by Politico, the Trump campaign sent a memo to its surrogates claiming that internal polling showed that Trump gained a dramatic 9 points against Joe Biden over the last three weeks to pull to even at 48-48. According to the memo, “55 percent favor sanctioning China for its handling — or lack thereof — of the coronavirus.”
This morning, the Wall Street Journal reported that Chinese and Iranian hackers were “aggressively targeting American universities, pharmaceutical and other health-care firms in a way that could be hampering their efforts to find a vaccine to counter the coronavirus pandemic.” It cited unnamed officials and alleged that these “attacks” have been ongoing since January 3 — the same day that Chinese officials informed CDC director Robert Redfield that the coronavirus was spreading in Wuhan. Redfield then informed HHS Secretary Alex Azar, who informed the White House National Security Council, but was ignored.
Most ominously, the WSJ hints that “the aggression could be viewed by the Trump administration as a direct attack on U.S. public health and tantamount to an act of war…because the attacks may have hindered vaccine research in some cases.”
How will congressional Democrats and presumptive nominee Joe Biden respond? A new Reuters report quoted Jake Sullivan, a key foreign policy advisor to Biden, saying the Biden campaign was preparing to roll out policies that will “hammer Trump” on his handling of China — by sounding even more anti-China than Trump.
But Stephen Wertheim, Qi’s deputy director of research and policy, warns that such an attempt to out-hawk the hawks risks plunging the United States into an unnecessary cold war with the world’s number-two power — and will make Americans less safe. We stand, he argues, on the brink of an even more destructive and less justifiable mistake than America’s post-9/11 crusade against terror. See his video below and read his op-ed in Monday’s New York Times with Qi research fellow Rachel Esplin Odell: