Condoleezza Rice says former President Donald Trump’s decision to enact border closures and travel restrictions from China in the early days of the pandemic was “incredibly appropriate."
“I think there were even those who said that President Trump's early decisions about border closures and travel restrictions were xenophobic or are not appropriate. Turns out they were incredibly appropriate,” Rice said Sunday during an appearance on CBS' "Face The Nation."
Congressional Democrats in April 2020 slammed Trump after he said he planned to suspend immigration to the United States, arguing that such a move would do nothing to protect Americans from the coronavirus and deflect attention from his handling of the outbreak.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., even tweeted that Trump was the "Xenophobe. In. Chief."
While Rice deemed Trump was correct to order early closure of the border at the onset of COVID, other mistakes have been made, she said, including trusting the Chinese government.
The former Secretary of State said public health officials in the United States made a "mistake" in the early weeks of the pandemic by dismissing the possibility that the coronavirus accidentally leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan, China.
“Were [U.S. officials] too accommodating of China in the sense that early on we were told the Chinese are on top of it? I can't imagine during the Cold War U.S. government ever saying, ‘Well, the Russians have told us they're on the case. Everything's fine.’ Were we too trusting of the Chinese?” host John Dickerson asked Rice on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
“That's a really good point, John,” Rice said, adding, “Maybe there was a little bit too much of trusting of the Chinese.”
Rice also said she didn't think it was "worth trusting that the Chinese were being transparent about what was going on there" given what the U.S. experienced with the SARS and avian flu outbreaks in the early 2000s.
Rice also suggested President Joe Biden in his search for answers into the origins of COVID-19 and the theory that the virus may have leaked from a lab in Wuhan "recognize that there was too much of a tendency early on to dismiss the possibility of a laboratory leak."
When asked if future national security challenges will have something to do with China, Rice told CBS, “certainly the great rival now is China."
But, that challenge “can be met," she said.
“It's different than the Cold War because during the Cold War our great rival, the Soviet Union, was a military giant, but it was frankly a technological midget and economically completely isolated from the international economy. China is very different,” Rice said.
“It is a technological giant. It is increasingly seeking military capabilities that look as if they are trying to change the balance in the Asia Pacific. So, it's a different kind of challenge, but it's one that I think can be met,” she added.
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