Mahlet Mesfin, a member of Joe Biden’s transition review team, advocated for U.S. and China collaboration on scientific endeavors including “gene editing” in response to coronavirus.
Mesfin, an alum of the Obama administration’s National Security and International Affairs branch of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, also served as a visiting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania’s Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement.
Now Mesfin finds herself on the Biden transition team, heading the Art and Humanities agency review team.
Mesfin, however, has advocated for closer scientific ties between the Chinese Communist Party and the U.S., penning an op-ed entitled “Why the Nobel Prize shows the US and China need to work together on gene editing.”
The piece focuses on the scientific community’s response to coronavirus, specifically between U.S. and China.
Mesfin fails to attribute any blame on the Chinese Communist Party for spawning the disease, instead of blaming “tense bilateral relations” on “politized [sic] claims over the origin and spread of the coronavirus” – ostensibly a typo meant to read “politicized.”
She laments that these claims “damper prospects of cooperation, especially in areas of biomedical research” despite the fact the Chinese Communist Party maintains a concerted and demonstrable effort to poach American science secrets, researchers, and intellectual property.
As U.S. officials describe it, the Chinese Communist Party has an “expansive approach to stealing technology and intellectual property” in order to “advance its military and economic power, and to achieve global scientific dominance.”
Mesfin echoes similar sentiments in a Foreign Affairs op-ed entitled “It Takes a World to End a Pandemic,” focusing intensely on U.S. and China cooperation.
Mesfin appeared to praise China’s transparency in handling the disease, insisting “in December, a group of Chinese researchers published the genetic sequence of the new virus online” and the “data allowed the international scientific community to start developing diagnostic tests and explore treatment options.”
Mesfin also laments that the “pandemic comes at a time of rising nationalism around the world,” noting that “insularity and xenophobia cannot possibly produce an effective response to this global crisis.”
What’s more, she again appeared to disagree with “U.S. concerns about Chinese espionage and technology transfer” that “have quelled U.S.-Chinese scientific cooperation” as she insisted they “limit high-level engagement, as evidenced by the fact that the OSTP did not include Chinese officials in its discussions with foreign counterparts”:
Tensions between China and the United States further threaten to dampen progress on coronavirus research. In recent years, U.S. concerns about Chinese espionage and technology transfer have quelled U.S.-Chinese scientific cooperation, as demonstrated by the prosecution or firing of top U.S. academics who allegedly covertly participated in programs to develop China’s scientific enterprise. These tensions also limit high-level engagement, as evidenced by the fact that the OSTP did not include Chinese officials in its discussions with foreign counterparts.
It’s no surprise, therefore, Mesfin spoke at a U.S.-China Business Council – which advocates for closer economic ties between the U.S. and the Chinese Communist Party – in 2015 and the 2020 Penn China research symposium in 2020.
The Penn event counted high-level Chinese Communist Party apparatchiks such as Ambassador Huang Ping, the Consul-General of the Chinese Communist Party’s New York Consulate in attendance, as Huang delivered opening remarks for the conference.