Soft on China: Koch-Funded Think Tank Slams Pelosi's Taiwan Trip

Critique comes day after Quincy Institute scholar Jessica Lee joined Biden admin

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August 2, 2022

An isolationist think tank bankrolled by George Soros and Charles Koch is galvanizing opposition to Democratic House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan, just a day after one of its top Asia scholars, who has lambasted the Biden administration's approach to Beijing, took a job in the Biden administration.

Several scholars affiliated with the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft on Tuesday argued that Pelosi’s trip to the contested island is "reckless, dangerous, unnecessary," as Quincy Institute senior adviser Eli Clifton put it on Twitter, and could spark a conflict with the CCP. The organization’s Twitter feed is boosting a range of voices known to be soft on China and critical of the Biden administration’s efforts to rein in China’s malign behavior.

"It’s reckless, dangerous, unnecessary, might spark a military confrontation with China and doesn’t serve any purpose except spiting China," Clifton tweeted on Tuesday, in one of several similar posts elevated by the think tank.

Pelosi arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday amid a flurry of threats from China to launch a military strike as a result of her visit to the island. The Quincy Institute, like other CCP mouthpieces, is promoting the narrative that Pelosi’s trip is unnecessarily provoking China. The Quincy Institute’s campaign comes just a day after Jessica Lee, an expert with the organization, left to take a job as senior adviser for legislative affairs at the State Department, signaling that the American foreign policy community’s most dovish voices are making inroads with the Biden administration.

Lee has publicly blamed the Biden administration’s "anti-China" policies for a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes and advocated a "cooperative relationship" with North Korea, as the Washington Free Beacon reported on Monday. "The continual naming and blaming of China as a bad actor on seemingly every front, as the source of all of America’s problems, cultivates real fear and insecurity among Americans," Lee said in a May 2021 video. "And it directly fuels violence against Americans of Asian descent. From physical attacks to outright murder, evidence of violent racism fueled by our anti-China policy is alarming."

The Quincy Institute’s Twitter account is driving an echo chamber of criticism about Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, including the promotion of a Time article claiming "there are no benefits to a Pelosi visit to Taiwan."

"Has anyone put forward any plausible theory of what, in the absolute best case, a Pelosi trip to Taiwan accomplishes?" the Quincy Institute’s Clifton wrote in a separate tweet also promoted by the think tank. "If there isn’t a potential upside then this is a reckless provocation that puts U.S. service members in danger and strains D.C.-Beijing relations all for nothing."

"The U.S. should not [be] doubling down on the Pelosi visit," tweeted Michael Swaine, the director of the Quincy Institute’s East Asia program, in a lengthy thread.

"This is why I have said more than once that the Biden admin’s [China] strategy is no strategy," Swaine added. "It’s based on largely amorphous ‘push-back’ or 'competition' w/ little sense of clear boundaries or the need [to] engage the [Chinese] in meaningful ways."

The Quincy Institute’s Twitter account also urged its followers to read a Thomas Friedman column claiming Pelosi’s trip is "utterly reckless."

The think tank is also pushing back against congressional attempts to provide increased military aid to Taiwan to help it defend itself against a possible invasion by China.