Explaining the Intense Diplomatic Battle Between the U.S. and China

During an interview on ABC News’ This Week on May 3, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stumbled when Martha Raddatz asked him if he thought COVID-19 is “manmade or genetically modified.” Pompeo responded: “Look, the best experts so far seem to think it was manmade. I have no reason to disbelieve that at this point.” 

Raddatz quickly pointed out that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), which oversees the sprawling U.S. intelligence community (IC), rejected this claim in a statement just a few days earlier. The IC “concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified,” the ODNI explains.

“That’s right. … I agree with that,” Pompeo said, contradicting his response from just a few moments earlier. “I have no reason to doubt that that is accurate at this point.” 

‘The secretary of state’s misstep was unfortunate given the stakes. The U.S. and Chinese governments remain deadlocked in an information war over the coronavirus, its origins, and which parties are most culpable for the pandemic. And the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) “Wolf Warriors”—diplomats who brashly defend the Communist party against all critics—are gunning for Pompeo. Along with President Trump, he’s their No. 1 target. As the Los Angeles Times reports, the CCP’s “Wolf Warriors” get their name from popular action movies starring a Chinese commando who battles various foes “led by a villainous American named Big Daddy.”

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