Peace Corps Pulls Out of China, under Pressure from Florida’s Republican Senators
Feb. 12, 2020 (EIRNS)—The Peace Corps informed the U.S. Congress on Jan. 16 that it is ending its program in China, under which American volunteers have been teaching English to university students in poorer provinces of China since the early 1990s. The Corps planned a gradual closure, but, due to the novel coronavirus, all Peace Corps volunteers were pulled out this month.
Sen. Marco Rubio was the first to announce the decision, which he celebrated. It is Sen. Rick Scott, however, who is being credited with provoking the pullout, through his proposed “Peace Corps Mission Accountability Act.” Scott’s bill would place the Peace Corps, currently an independent agency operating under the White House, under the direction of the State Department, and require its programs be in line with U.S. foreign policy. It specifically mandates that no Peace Corps volunteers could operate in “hostile nations” such as China.
Scott recounted how he had been hounding the Peace Corps director to pull the agency out of China, in a frenzied anti-China letter to editor of the Wall Street Journal on Jan. 30.
This senator, a former venture-capitalist and the co-founder of the largest for-profit hospital chain in the U.S., Columbia HCA, wrote the Director-General of the World Health Organization Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Feb. 11, demanding that Dr. Tedros refuse to trust anything that “Communist China” reports about the novel coronavirus. This senator, parading as a defender of truth and capitalism, was the CEO of Columbia HCA when it was caught in major Medicare fraud.
Former Peace Corps China volunteer Steve Hess, now a professor at Transylvania University, suspects that the Peace Corps sacrificed the China program to save its independence. Hess is mobilizing support to reverse the cancellation, and telling The Hill that such a decision, when “our reputation with China is so fraught right now,” harms the U.S.-China partnership. “To solve world problems, we need to work with China. And Peace Corps was a part of maintaining that relationship.”
Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA), who served in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia, also calls the decision mistaken.
“The United States should maintain a Peace Corps presence in China.... The presence of the Peace Corps provides an important opportunity for Americans to gain an understanding of modern-day Chinese culture and society, that would be of significant value for American diplomacy,” he told The Hill.