A trio of House Republican lawmakers are pushing the Trump administration to slap 10 Chinese Communist Party officials with sanctions due to their efforts to keep information under wrap in the early days of the coronavirus outbreak.
Reps. Jim Banks (R-IN), Lance Gooden (R-TX), and Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) wrote a letter to the State Department and the Treasury Department on Monday, urging agency leaders to use the Magnitsky Act to hold the Chinese government officials accountable for actions that put millions of people around the world at risk.
As has been widely reported at this point, Chinese officials sought to downplay, deceive, and cover up the coronavirus outbreak in the first weeks and months of what turned into a pandemic. Instead of alerting world leaders to the problem brewing within the borders of Wuhan, government leaders actively went out of their way to spread misinformation and jail dissenters. The result? Well, independent analysts have concluded that 90% of COVID-19 infections and deaths could have been avoided had the CCP chosen a different course of action.
“All of these baffling and damaging decisions harmed Chinese citizens and the rest of the world, encouraged the spread of COVID-19, and hindered governments around the world from crafting an effective pandemic response,” the lawmakers wrote. “The result has been tens of thousands of unnecessary American deaths and substantial economic damage.”
While this is not the first time Republican lawmakers have called on the Trump administration to take economic action against China, the letter finally puts names to the wrongdoing. Among the officials cited by the lawmakers: Chen Yongxin, the deputy mayor of Wuhan, Li Yilong of the Wuhan Public Security Bureau, and Ma Xioawei, the Chinese National Health Commission minister.
“The Chinese Communist Party has spread harmful and misleading propaganda about the origin of the virus, accusing the United States Military of manufacturing and importing the virus to Wuhan,” the lawmakers wrote. “Party diplomats have threatened a nationwide boycott of American goods to discourage independent medical investigations into coronavirus.”
In a statement to the press, Rep. Banks expressed optimism that the State Department would take heed of their recommendations.
“I know Secretary Pompeo shares my dim view of the Communist Party, and I look forward to working with him, and Reps. Crenshaw and Gooden to hold Party officials accountable,” Banks said. “Starting with the seven on that list, who have significantly harmed the global economy and contributed to the deaths of countless American and Chinese citizens.”
When it comes to holding China responsible for what they’ve done to the U.S. (and the world), this should only be the tip of the iceberg.