A prominent Ivy League economist bashed the United States at a recent Chinese Communist Party business forum, accusing American leaders of trying to "undermine" Chinese companies like TikTok and "escalating" a trade war with Beijing.
Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs called on American business leaders at the China Development Forum to urge U.S. officials to "calm down" in their stance toward China.
"We want to make peace, cooperation, and business; we don't want conflict," he said.
Sachs's remarks have served as a useful propaganda tool for Beijing. State media outlets like China Daily and Global Times touted his criticism of the United States and praise of the forum for helping ease geopolitical tensions.
The Development Research Center of the State Council, which advises the Chinese Communist Party on political issues, sponsors the China Development Forum, which is billed as an alternative to the World Economic Forum held in Davos each year. Ding Xuexiang, a top adviser to Chinese leader Xi Jinping, gave the keynote speech at the forum. Prominent business leaders like Apple's Tim Cook and Pfizer's Albert Bourla also spoke at the event.
Sachs, widely considered one of the world's most influential economists, has emerged as a leading critic of American foreign policy. A former adviser to China's State Development Planning Commission, Sachs has appeared numerous times on China's state-controlled media outlets to criticize the United States. He accused conservatives of waging an "unholy crusade" against China and labeled the U.S. government the "greatest threat" to international law and global peace.
"I do not believe that China is the root of the current problems; I believe that the tensions have arisen mainly from the United States side," said Sachs, who also accused conservatives of seeking a cold war with China. In 2020, he penned an article for CNN in which he accused Republicans of making "reckless and dangerous" claims that the coronavirus started as a leak from a lab in Wuhan, China. That theory has since gained that backing of the FBI and other U.S. intelligence agencies.
Sachs, who was invited to the China Development Forum to speak on the topic of "safeguarding global energy security," is head of Columbia's Center for Sustainable Development, which advises governments and corporations around the globe on "sustainable development policy and best practices." Through the center, Sachs leads the Lancet COVID-19 Commission, a blue-ribbon panel that studies the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, vaccines, and other pandemic-related issues.
Sachs has more recently taken a critical view of the United States in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. He has pushed the unverified claim that the U.S. government blew up the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which transported oil from Russia to Europe. He has accused the United States of using Ukraine to wage a proxy war against Russia, echoing a popular Kremlin talking point.