A group of 20 American professors signed a joint letter with a group of Chinese professors demanding that the United States work more closely with China on future research efforts, according to the Washington Free Beacon.
The letter, which appeared in the most recent edition of the American Chemical Society’s journal of Environmental Science and Technology, was signed by 21 Americans and 19 Chinese. Of the 40 signatories, nine of the Americans had received their educations in Chinese universities; 18 of the journal’s editors have worked for institutions backed in some capacity by the Chinese government.
The letter’s authors claim that while “increasing geopolitical competition has generated greater mistrust between the U.S. and China…a great deal of this mistrust results from misunderstanding.” The letter recommends that American and Chinese “funding agencies should also seek opportunities to fund joint global research projects in SDG [sustainable development goals] areas for the common good.”
“A sustainable future,” the letter continues, “will simply not be possible without the engagement and leadership of the U.S. and China.”
The poorly-timed letter comes as suspicions are higher than ever before that the global coronavirus pandemic, which originated in China, may not have had natural origins, but was instead leaked by the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Scientists there have been known to study multiple coronavirus strains, and the possibility of leaking of such a pandemic from a government-backed entity has drawn much scrutiny onto the Chinese government. There have been calls from around the world for further investigations, as well as more sanctions on China.
Others in the world of academia have called out the article as Chinese propaganda. One such voice is Magnus Fiskejo, a professor of anthropology at Cornell University, who decried the article as “clearly a political intervention,” adding that “we have to suspect that this is a Chinese Communist Party United Front operation, where outsiders are enticed and cajoled into furthering the Chinese Communist Party’s aims.”