Raimondo didn’t register for the Chinese Communists as they assessed American politics.
Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian’s Axios article on the efforts of a Chinese think tank connected with the Communist Party to analyze United States government at a more-fine level of detail than usual is more than a year old, but I hadn’t seen it:
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo mentioned one of the reports in a Feb. 8 speech to the National Governors Association, in which he warned that the Chinese Communist Party is trying to influence U.S. state and local government decision-making. …
The report stated that while a hardline attitude towards China now prevails in Washington, the American federal system means that state-level governments may not be in lockstep.
- “Governors can ignore orders from the White House,” the report claimed, “and state governments can change or even cancel local governments such as cities, counties, and school districts.”
- State-level officials “enjoy a certain degree of diplomatic independence,” the report stated.
Although most of the report is in Chinese, it appears that Rhode Island’s governor at the time, Gina Raimondo, was not categorized as either a “hardliner” or “friendly.” In New England, all of the apparently assigned governors made the “friendly” list: Janet Mills in Maine, Charlie Baker in Massachusetts, Chris Sununu in New Hampshire, and Phil Scott in Vermont.
Now that we have the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the associated shutdowns and political squabbles in the books, the comment that “governors can ignore orders from the White House.” Maybe it’s just coincidental, but just a couple months after this report first came to light. we saw some governors saying exactly that as they pushed back against a coordinated national strategy for handling a virus that originated in China that seems almost certainly to have come from a Chinese lab experimenting with making viruses more dangerous.
Along those lines, recall that Governor Baker was often a tone-setter for the region when it came to locking down, with Raimondo generally happy to follow.