by Nancy Okail

CIP Condemns COVID Vaccine Disinformation Campaign by Pentagon

In response to the shocking report that the Pentagon initiated a social media manipulation-based disinformation campaign under the Trump Administration to discredit Chinese-origin vaccines and protective equipment among the Filipino public in an effort to undermine perceptions of China in the Philippines in the midst of the COVID pandemic, Center for International Policy President & CEO Nancy Okail issued the following statement:

“Americans should be outraged that their government launched a disinformation campaign under Donald Trump that essentially weaponized the COVID pandemic, imperiling the lives of countless innocent people in the Philippines and beyond.

Spreading dangerous lies about vaccines and personal protective equipment among an especially hard-hit population is inhumane in and of itself. To have done so for the sole purpose of eroding public perceptions about China in a partner country, while callously disregarding the certainty that it would jeopardize the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocents, is utterly indefensible.

We are glad that the Biden Administration appears to have ended the campaign within its first few months of taking office. We call on relevant Congressional committees and leaders to seek a thorough investigation of this disinformation campaign and hold those responsible for it fully accountable.

It is dangerous to let an abstract geopolitical concept override the urgent necessity of saving human lives. The outrage and distrust of the United States this cruel gambit is already beginning to engender demonstrates some of the inherent dangers of the ‘great power competition’ mindset that is  shaping US foreign policy across the globe. Rather than cooperating in areas like global health where US and Chinese interests align, the obsession with undercutting China on every issue and in every region leads to outcomes that ultimately harm US standing and security. The United States can be clear-eyed about the need to address China’s destabilizing actions and repressive policies, while at the same time better serving our essential interests by engaging China in a manner that reduces dangerous tensions rather than exacerbating them.”