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Pentagon Official Praises Chinese Cooperation on Coronavirus Pandemic; So, Where Is the State Department?

April 11, 2020 (EIRNS)—During a briefing at the Pentagon on April 9, Chad Sbragia, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for China, described the global coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to set aside differences and identify constructive outlets for cooperation. “The U.S. certainly welcomes China’s call to combat the COVID-19 pandemic together, and we welcomed high-quality Chinese aid to help alleviate the suffering felt around the world, to include in Europe,” he said. “Because China was the first to learn of this outbreak, we feel that the CPC’s—the Chinese Communist Party officials in Wuhan and Beijing had a special responsibility to inform the Chinese people and the world of the threat.” He noted that the statement by certain Chinese officials which blamed the U.S. for starting the virus, was “unfounded, futile, and really counterproductive,” but he also noted that the government walked back the accusation.

Sbragia remarked that the Chinese have, during bilateral dialogs, including between Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe, sought cooperation in fighting the pandemic. “And it’s critically important that they’ve done so, and it was certainly welcomed and reciprocated by the Department here.” “Our militaries must remain committed to seeking cooperation over confrontation during this pandemic so that the world can recover and prosper.”

A reporter observed that what Sbragia was saying about China contradicts what reporters hear about China over at the State Department, particularly about China’s willingness to cooperate with the U.S. “It’s been very important to us,” Sbragia replied, “and we have interagency alignment on ensuring that our strategic competition with China shouldn’t be impacted by the COVID-19 area—or period. This is a time of collaboration, and coordination, and cooperation.”

“It’s important as that I think that we have a consensus between the leaders of the two militaries is that we want to avoid COVID issues flowing into and being militarized, instead remaining as an area of cooperation. And I think that’s the best path—best paths for both countries, but certainly for the global community,” he stressed.

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