The Peace Corps has rejected U.S. Sen. Rick Scott’s, R-Fla., call to end operations in China and refocus them in the Bahamas which were devastated by Hurricane Dorian last month.
Back in July, Dr. Jody Olsen, the director of the Peace Corps, said she had no intention of ending operations in China, prompting Scott to weigh in.
“Peace Corps volunteers are charged with promoting freedom and spreading American ideals to developing countries across the globe. But what the Peace Corps shouldn’t be doing is propping up our adversaries with U.S. tax dollars. Let’s remember, China is a wealthy nation that certainly has the resources to fund initiatives. There is no reason the U.S. should be giving millions in foreign aid to China every year, and there is no reason American taxpayers should be sending volunteers to do the work of the Communist government of China,” Scott said in July.
“China steals our technology and intellectual property, refuses to open up their markets, refuses to allow human rights and supports Maduro’s genocide in Venezuela. China is also militarizing the South China Sea and building its military to compete with the United States on the world stage. I’ve asked the Peace Corps to pull all volunteers and resources from China immediately, and I look forward to their swift cooperation,” he added.
Later that month, Scott introduced a bill sending the Peace Corps to the U.S. State Department and have its volunteers end activities in rival countries, including China.
Scott introduced the “Peace Corps Mission Accountability Act” at the end of July which “will prohibit all Peace Corps activity in hostile countries” with the Florida Republican signaling out China.
“The Peace Corps has an honorable mission of promoting freedom and spreading American ideals to developing countries around the world. We want the Peace Corps to do good work across the globe – just not with our enemies like China,” Scott said. “The Peace Corps continues to use taxpayer dollars to support programs in places like China, which continues to steal our technology and intellectual property, refuses to open up their markets, is militarizing the South China Sea, violates human rights and supports Maduro’s genocide in Venezuela.
“The Peace Corps Mission Accountability Act provides the oversight necessary to make sure all Peace Corps activities are in line with our national security interests and in underdeveloped countries that truly need our help – not wealthy nations like China. This is about protecting both taxpayer money and the American people,” Scott added.
As of now, the Peace Corps is an independent agency in the executive branch of the federal government. Scott’s bill would have the director of the Peace Corps report to the U.S. Secretary of State. Under Scott’s bill, the Secretary of State would have to report to Congress about the Peace Corps on an annual basis.
Scott’s bill was sent to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relation Committee at the end of July where it has failed to build much traction. So far, the bill has no cosponsors and there is no companion measure over in the U.S. House.
Last month, when Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas, Scott called on the Peace Corps to refocus its efforts there and stop its operations in China by October 1. But with that deadline now in the rearview mirror, Scott weighed in again on Wednesday.
“I’m disappointed that the Peace Corps ignored my request to get out of Communist China,” Scott said. “President Xi is a Communist dictator and human rights violator. Communist China is supporting Maduro’s genocide of young children in Venezuela, killing over a million of its own citizens a year with hazardous air pollution, and attacking religious freedom by detaining possibly more than one million Uyghurs, a Muslim ethnic minority group in China, in internment and re-education camps. There is no reason the Peace Corps should be using taxpayer dollars to prop up one of our greatest adversaries – a wealthy nation that can fund its own initiatives. Our friends in the Bahamas are still hurting, and it makes no sense that the Peace Corps would rather do the work of Communist China than help our neighbors in need.”
Olsen, who worked two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Tunisia back in the 1960s, hasn’t directly responded to Scott in public but she has been a defender of operations in China. Last year, Olsen celebrated the 25th anniversary of Peace Corps operations in China and insisted it played a vital role in bridging the two nations.
“At its heart, this program brings together people to share knowledge, world views, cultural riches and the values and shared aspirations of the American and Chinese peoples,” said Olsen. “We could not be prouder of our shared legacy, or more grateful for the friendship and collaboration of our Chinese partners.”