CNN anchor Dana Bash challenged National Security adviser Jake Sullivan Sunday on President Joe Biden’s plan to put pressure on the Chinese Communist Party.
Bash spoke with Sullivan on Sunday’s broadcast of “State of the Union” and asked for specifics on what the Biden administration would do to ensure cooperation from the Chinese government in the continued search for the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. (RELATED: ‘Those Are His Words’: Dana Bash Presses Cedric Richmond After Biden Says ‘No’ To Progressives’ ‘Socialist Agenda’)
“China is stonewalling an investigation and you said we just can’t take this lying down,” Bash began. “What does that mean in practical terms? If China won’t allow access, will the U.S. consider action against China to increase the pressure?”
Sullivan said that there were two investigations being pursued by the Biden administration — one run by the intelligence community and overrun by the World Health Organization (WHO) — and he acknowledged that access to China was necessary to get answers. (RELATED: Former State Dept. Investigator Says If China’s Not Asking For Help, They Probably Know COVID-19’s Origins)
“We are not, at this point, going to issue threats or ultimatums,” Sullivan continued. “What we’re going to do is continue to rally support in the international community and if it turns out that China refuses to live up to its international obligations, we will have to consider our responses at that point and we will do so in concert with allies and partners.”
“Does that sound like not taking it lying down?” Bash pressed. “Sounds like giving them a lot of time.”
“Well, this is not a question of time, Dana,” Sullivan replied. “First of all, we are in the process of using our own capacities, our own capabilities to begin to develop a clearer picture.”
Sullivan went on to say that Biden was working on strengthening diplomatic ties with the allies and partners he would need on his side if he determined that it was necessary to put additional pressure on China in the future.
“We are not going to simply accept China saying no,” Sullivan concluded. “But we will work between now and when this second phase of the WHO investigation is fully underway to have as strong a consensus in the international community as possible because it is from that position of strength that we will best be able to deal with China.”
Others, such as former CDC Director Robert Redfield, have raised the concern that the WHO is too “compromised” to take charge of the investigation.
“Clearly, they were incapable of compelling China to adhere to the treaty agreements that they have on global health, because they didn’t do that,” Redfield told Fox News. “Clearly, they allowed China to define the group of scientists that could come and investigate. That’s not consistent with their role.”