One of the Biden administration’s newest State Department hires has regularly downplayed the threat posed by China and argued against holding the Communist regime accountable for the coronavirus pandemic, comments that clash with an administration that has promised to play tough with Beijing.
Rachel Esplin Odell was hired in August to serve as a foreign policy analyst at the State Department, according to her LinkedIn profile. Odell believes “the military threat posed by China to U.S. interests is limited in nature” and that efforts to sanction the CCP for its efforts to hide the “coronavirus would harm America and the world.” These comments put her out of step with the Biden administration, which has increased sanctions on China for its interference in Hong Kong, its ongoing human rights abuses, and its efforts to spy on the United States and other countries.
Odell previously served as a fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, an isolationist think tank jointly funded by George Soros and Charles Koch. As a Quincy fellow, Odell routinely argued that China poses no threat and that the United States should surrender its presence in the region to appease the Communist Party.
Odell is one of some 100 progressive foreign policy hands who were pitched to the incoming Biden administration late last year as part of a push by isolationist and far-left advocacy groups to gain influence over the administration’s national security apparatus. That list, first published in full by the Washington Free Beacon, included notorious anti-Israel activists and progressive policy voices. Odell’s hiring signals that team Biden is willing to accommodate the Democratic Party’s far-left flank. Politico described the list in December as the “first comprehensive and coordinated effort by the left to influence the transition to appoint progressives” across the U.S. national security and diplomatic community.
Odell’s rhetoric on China puts her at odds with more moderate Biden administration officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and White House National Security Council adviser Jake Sullivan, both of whom have stated their support for countering an increasingly aggressive China, both economically and militarily.
Rebeccah Heinrichs, a national security expert and senior fellow at the Hudson Institute think tank, described the Biden administration’s China policy as “bipolar.”
“There are people who get that China is the pacing threat, and then there are people who are still downplaying the Chinese military threat in the Indo-Pacific and recommending we engage on climate and trade,” Heinrichs said. “Those are mutually exclusive. The latter group will facilitate the rise of China at America’s expense. Period. It is concerning when Biden hires and promotes anyone who has been trying to downplay the military dimension of the China challenge over the last few years especially. It’s inexcusable.”
Odell claimed in a March 2020 discussion hosted by Quincy—which has positioned itself as the go-to think tank for the Biden administration—that “China actually has not posed any threat to freedom of nav…