Lawmakers from both chambers of the U.S. Congress introduced resolutions Tuesday condemning China’s handling of the outbreak of coronavirus, with the Senate version calling for an international investigation to hold Beijing accountable for allowing the deadly virus to become a global pandemic.
“Since day one, the Chinese Communist Party intentionally lied to the world about the origin of this pandemic. The CCP was aware of the reality of the virus as early as December but ordered laboratories to destroy samples and forced doctors to keep silent,” Republican Senator Josh Hawley said in a press statement.
“There is no doubt that China’s unconscionable decision to orchestrate an elaborate cover up of the wide-ranging and deadly implications of coronavirus led to the death of thousands of people, including hundreds of Americans and climbing,” said Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik, who joined Hawley in introducing the resolution.
“This Resolution calls for China to provide compensation for the harm, loss, and destruction their arrogance brought upon the rest of the world. Simply put China must, and will, be held accountable.”
On March 18, Hawley took to twitter to call for an international probe into China's handling of the outbreak, which saw health officials in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, cover up the emergence of the new pathogen in December by suppressing information and by classifying the surge of new cases as "pneumonia."
“There needs to be a full, international investigation of #China Communist Party’s actions that helped turn #coronavirus #COVID19 into a global pandemic,” Hawley tweeted last week.
Meanwhile, in the House of Representatives, Republican Rep. Jim Banks introduced a resolution stating that China “made multiple, serious mistakes in the early stages of the COVID–19 outbreak that heightened the severity and spread of the ongoing COVID–19 pandemic.”
The missteps “include the Chinese Government’s intentional spread of misinformation to downplay the risks of the virus, a refusal to cooperate with international health authorities, internal censorship of doctors and journalists, and malicious disregard for the health of ethnic minorities,” said the resolution.
The lawmakers’ measures follow war of words between Beijing and Washington over the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Repeated comments by President Donald Trump referring to the pathogen as "the Chinese virus" have rankled Chinese authorities, who have launched a major propaganda campaign to change the narrative on Wuhan.
Chinese health officials initially said they had traced the newly detected coronavirus to the now-shuttered Huanan Seafood Market in the central city of Wuhan, where the epidemic first emerged in December.
But the ruling Chinese Communist Party's propaganda machine has ordered officials to start questioning the narrative that the virus came from China.
Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian tweeted early this month that "patient zero" in the global pandemic may have come from the United States. drawing a sharp complaint from Washington.
"It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation," Zhao wrote. He provided no evidence and shared reports from what is widely viewed as a conspiracy theory website.