President Joe Biden’s national security spokesman ducked questions about Chinese land purchases near U.S. military bases during Tuesday’s press briefing.
Al Jazeera reporter Kimberly Halkett grilled NSC spokesman John Kirby about security implications of China owning land near secure defense installations.
Kirby, an experienced government spokesman, answered her questions like an ardent disciple of Muhammad Ali’s patented rope-a-dope strategy.
The New York Post further reported:
Al Jazeera reporter Kimberly Halkett asked Kirby at the daily White House briefing about Chinese entities, some of them linked to the Chinese government, “buying up US real estate, in some cases farms around military installations.”
“Is that on the administration’s radar and what is being done perhaps to study this or to protect Americans — from making sure that homes remain affordable and so on?” Halkett asked.
Kirby attempted to shrug off the inquiry by choosing to focus only on part of the question.
“I think the question of homeownership is a little bit out of my swim lane,” Kirby said.
Halkett clarified, “It’s actually a national security issue, particularly when it comes to around military installations.”
Kirby, a former Pentagon spokesman, again avoided the main issue and said, “What I will tell you is that the president has been nothing but clear about our concerns about Chinese unfair trade practices and economic practices.”
Halkett interjected, “This isn’t about trade, this is about national security and buying up land around the military installations.”
“I’m probably not the right person to ask about homeownership here in the United States,” Kirby repeated.
“This isn’t about home ownership,” Halkett again clarified. “This is about buying up land around military installations. Is that a concern to this administration?”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre moved to cut off the line of questioning, over Halkett’s protests.
“I sent this to your office last week,” Halkett told Kirby. “You’ve had a week to look at this, including the articles.
Jean-Pierre said, “We can get back to you after. We’re going to move on.”
It’s common for White House spokespeople to end questioning at briefings by saying that they will follow up with reporters afterward, but it rarely happens, especially for contentious topics.
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