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Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spent more than $10,000 of taxpayer money on China-made pens for attendees at private dinner parties he hosted, including CEOs, conservative media figures and Republican donors, according to State Department records.

The pens Pompeo handed out to his Madison Dinner guests cost an average of more than $26 apiece, according to the records, first reported Thursday by the advocacy group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

CREW noted that at the same time the top U.S. diplomat was doling out 400 of the expensive pens, he was publicly bashing China for “trade abuses that cost American jobs and strike enormous blows to economies all across America.”

In a tweet Thursday, he said: “We must remain tough on China.”

Pompeo’s then-boss, now-former President Donald Trump, ran for the White House as a Republican on an “America First” platform and also often stuck out at China.

In addition to the cost of the pens, which in a classy touch were engraved with the words “Madison Dinner,” taxpayers footed the bill for $40,000 or so in other expenses related to the soirees, according to CREW, which received documents about the pens through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

Records show that the pens were purchased from Madden Branded Goods, a Florida-based company that bills itself as “a team of creative thinkers and team players who are passionate about logo’d swag.”

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In all, the State Department forked over at least $10,433 for the pens.

A spokeswoman for Pompeo, who is considered a potential candidate for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Pompeo named the dinners after the fifth American secretary of State, James Madison, who was elected president after serving as the nation’s leading diplomat.

NBC News, which first reported details of the dinners, previously said that State Department officials involved in the dinners “raised concerns internally that the events were essentially using federal resources to cultivate a donor and supporter base for Pompeo’s political ambitions.”

Only around 14% of the attendees were diplomats or foreign officials.

Pompeo is a former CIA director and GOP congressman from Kansas.”

That report was published in May, days after the State Department’s inspector general, Steve Linick, was fired by Trump even as the internal watchdog was investigating Pompeo’s alleged misuse of a political appointee at the department to perform personal tasks for himself and his wife.

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Biden administration

Wuhan Lab Eligible to Receive US Taxpayer Funding Through 2024, NIH Confirms

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The Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) is authorized to receive taxpayer funding for animal research until January 2024, the National Institute of Health told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

The WIV is at the center of widespread speculation that COVID-19 could have entered the human population in China due to an accidental lab leak. Researchers at the lab were studying bat-based coronaviruses prior to the outbreak, a project partially backed by $600,000 in U.S. taxpayer funds routed to the lab through the nonprofit group EcoHealth Alliance.

The president of EcoHealth Alliance, Peter Daszak, was the sole U.S. member of the World Health Organization (WHO) delegation that investigated the origins of the pandemic on the ground in China in January and February. While the WHO delegation has yet to release a report on their findings, Daszak said the White House should blindly accept their conclusion that it’s highly unlikely the virus could have leaked from the WIV.

Daszak also said American intelligence, which indicates researchers at the WIV became infected with COVID-like symptoms before the first known cases in December 2019, shouldn’t be trusted.

EcoHealth Alliance’s work researching bat-based coronaviruses in China was funded by a $3.7 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in 2014, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The grant was terminated by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in April amid criticism over EcoHealth Alliance’s relationship with the WIV. The NIH said in a letter the nonprofit’s work in China did not align with “program goals and agency priorities.”

Security-personnel
Security personnel gather near the entrance of the Wuhan Institute of Virology during a visit by the World Health Organization team in Wuhan in China’s Hubei province, China, on Feb. 3, 2021. (Ng Han Guan/AP Photo)

The NIH told EcoHealth Alliance in July it would restore the grant if it met certain conditions, one of which was to arrange for an independent team to investigate the WIV to determine if it had possession of the SARS-COV-2 virus prior to the first known cases in December 2019.

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Daszak told NPR that the NIH’s conditions were “preposterous.”

“I’m not trained as a private detective,” Daszak said. “It’s not really my job to do that.”

However, the WIV still has an active Foreign Assurance on file with the NIH Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare, which enables it to continue receiving taxpayer funds to engage in animal research, according to the NIH Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare.

A NIH spokeswoman told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the WIV’s Foreign Assurance was approved on Jan. 9, 2019, and is currently set to expire on Jan. 31, 2024.

The spokeswoman did not confirm whether the WIV is currently receiving direct or indirect taxpayer funding for research activities involving animals. EcoHealth Alliance’s last known subgrant to the WIV was in May 2019, according to USASpending.Gov.

EcoHealth Alliance received a new $7.5 million grant from the NIH to help establish a Centers for Research in Emerging Infectious Diseases. Daszak told NPR that the funds his organization received from the new grant will not be used for any research in China.

The president of the nonpartisan watchdog group White Coat Waste Project, Anthony Bellotti, told the DCNF that EcoHealth Alliance should be defunded entirely for funding “reckless gain-of-function animal experiments that may have led to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“We’re urging Congress and the White House to defund EcoHealth now and secure independent investigations into whether their treacherous gain-of-function animal experiments at the Wuhan Institute of Virology led to the COVID outbreak.”

By Andrew Kerr

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Biden bans the phrases ‘China Virus and Kung Flu’…

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Joe Biden signs an executive order banning the term ‘China virus.’

The coronavirus is widely believed today to have been created in a lab in Wuhan China.

This was one of 37 executive orders in six days.

Biden signed a memorandum condemning racism, xenophobia and intolerance against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the U.S., and praising the communities for their contribution to combating the pandemic.

“The Federal Government must recognize that it has played a role in furthering these xenophobic sentiments through the actions of political leaders, including references to the COVID-19 pandemic by the geographic location of its origin,” according to the document. “Such statements have stoked unfounded fears and perpetuated stigma about Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and have contributed to increasing rates of bullying, harassment, and hate crimes against AAPI persons.”

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U.S. Describes China’s Repression of Uighurs Is ‘Genocide’

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The State Department declared on Tuesday that the Chinese government is committing genocide and crimes against humanity through its wide-scale repression of Uighurs and other mostly Muslim ethnic minorities in its northwestern region of Xinjiang, including in its use of internment camps and forced sterilization, American officials said.

The move is expected to be the Trump administration’s final action on China, made on its last full day, and is the culmination of a yearslong debate over how to punish what many consider Beijing’s worst human rights abuses in decades. Relations between the countries have deteriorated over the past four years, and the new finding adds to a long list of tension points. Foreign policy officials and experts across the political spectrum in the United States say China will be the greatest challenge for any administration for years or decades to come.

”I believe this genocide is ongoing, and that we are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uighurs by the Chinese party-state,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement, adding that Chinese officials were “engaged in the forced assimilation and eventual erasure of a vulnerable ethnic and religious minority group.”

The determination of atrocities is a rare action on the part of the State Department, and could lead the United States to impose more sanctions against China under the new administration of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., who said last year through a spokesman that the policies by Beijing amounted to “genocide.” Other nations or international institutions could follow suit in formally criticizing China over its treatment of its minority Muslims and taking punitive measures. The determination also prompts certain reviews within the State Department.

The finding is the harshest denunciation yet by any government against China’s policies in Xinjiang. Genocide is, according to international convention, “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”

Mr. Pompeo, State Department lawyers and other officials had debated for months over the determination, but the matter had gained urgency in the Trump administration’s final days. As was common with most China policy, the issue of Xinjiang had long pitted administration officials against one another: Mr. Pompeo and other national security aides advocated tough measures against Beijing, while President Trump and top economic advisers brushed aside the concerns.

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The Chinese government has rejected previous accusations of genocide and other human rights violations in Xinjiang. At a news conference in Beijing last week, officials condemned American politicians and groups for making such accusations.

“This utterly untethered fabrication of ‘genocide’ regarding Xinjiang is the conspiracy of the century,” Xu Guixiang, a deputy director of propaganda for Xinjiang told the news conference. “People of all ethnic groups independently choose safe, effective and appropriate birth control measures. There has been no such a problem of ‘mandatory sterilization’ in the region.”

Mr. Pompeo and senior State Department officials made the decision just days before Mr. Biden takes office. The finding could complicate his administration’s dealings with Beijing, but it also offers a source of leverage. Mr. Biden’s nominee for secretary of state, Antony J. Blinken, plans to mention the “growing rivalry with China, Russia and other authoritarian states” at a Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday afternoon, according to a copy of his opening statement.

In the days before the decision, State Department officials had argued over whether China’s actions in Xinjiang met the standard for genocide or whether they fell under crimes against humanity, which has a lower standard, said American officials familiar with the debate. Mr. Pompeo decided to use both.

One U.S. official said the best rationale for the genocide label on China was the use of forced sterilizations, birth control and family separations to destroy Uighur identity.

Several State Department officials said the decision was rooted in trying to meet policy goals; they said they hoped the move would spur other nations to take a harder public line against China on this and other issues.

Some officials opposed to the action pointed out that the department never made a determination on whether the Myanmar government had committed genocide against the ethnic Rohingya Muslims, despite strong evidence of the crime. In 2017, the department said Myanmar had committed “ethnic cleansing.”

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