News & Politics

22 Republicans Urge Bill Barr to Hold China Accountable for 'Heinous Crimes' Regarding Coronavirus

In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping (Xie Huanchi/Xinhua via AP)

On Monday, twenty-two Republican congressmen sent a letter to Attorney General Bill Barr, asking him to bring a case against China to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over the Communist Party’s heinous crimes and coronavirus malfeasance.

“The Chinese regime subjected its own citizens to every heinous crime you could think of–and some you couldn’t–to cover-up this pandemic. And because of that cover-up, countless Americans have lost their jobs, their loved ones, and their lives,” Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), the author of the letter, told PJ Media on Wednesday. “As my letter makes clear, our entire federal government needs to work together to bring China to the ICJ and make them pay for what they’ve done.”

In fact, Banks insisted that China’s crimes regarding the coronavirus could be even worse than it now appears. “The extent of China’s culpability is still unclear. Fortunately, Secretary Pompeo and the intelligence communities are currently investigating the origin of the virus–so China’s role in all of this could be even greater than we’ve already proved it to be,” he added.

The letter notes that China signed the 2005 International Health Regulations (IHR), which imposed a duty on Beijing to rapidly gather and protect information and to contribute to the common understanding of public health emergencies with international implications. The congressmen claim that China violated Article Five and Article Six of the IHR, which require countries to monitor and record data about diseases that might become international pandemics and to provide expedited, timely, accurate, and detailed information to the World Health Organization (WHO) within 24 hours.

“The Chinese state made intentional false claims to its own people and the world about the nature of the virus,” the letter states. “In late December, when doctors and journalists tried to warn of a new coronavirus 87% similar to SARS and the emergence of ‘pneumonia of unclear clause,’ the Chinese authorities suppressed or jailed them. On December 31, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission falsely stated that there was no human-to human transmission of the disease, describing it as a seasonal flu that was ‘preventable and controllable,’ despite contrary reports from Chinese doctors battling the virus” (emphasis original).

“This prompted the World Health Organization to announce in a now infamous tweet on Jan. 14 that ‘preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCov) identified in Wuhan, China.’ China rejected repeated offers from the WHO and CDC in late January and early February to study the new disease without explanation,” the letter adds.

The congressmen also note that “on January 3, 2020, the leading public health authority in China, the National Health Commission, directed all Chinese research institutions to cease publicly releasing any information related to a then unknown SARS-like virus, and ordered them to either destroy existing laboratory samples of the virus or transfer them to approved testing sites.”

The letter also cites the damning fact that “an epidemiological model at the University of Southampton found that had China acted responsibly just three weeks earlier, the number affected by the virus would have been cut by 95 percent.” According to his own party, Chinese President Xi Jinping was personally involved in the coronavirus response as early as January 7, two weeks before the Wuhan lockdown. On January 26, Wuhan’s mayor admitted that 5 million people had already left the city.

While only Republicans signed the letter, the request to Barr cites a Washington Post article explaining that there is a bipartisan consensus about the Chinese Communist Party’s nefarious role in allowing the pandemic to spread. “Republicans and Democrats now largely agree that the Chinese government bears responsibility for the spread of the pandemic, that it can’t be trusted on this or any other issue, and that the U.S. government should maintain a tough position on China on trade and overall, especially if Beijing again falters in its commitments,” the Post‘s Josh Rogin wrote.

The letter to Barr comes weeks after the British think tank the Henry Jackson Society (HJS) released a report claiming that the G7 nations and other countries should bring a case against China for violating the IHR. HJS estimated that the coronavirus crisis has cost just the G7 nations roughly $4 trillion, placing China’s liability in the trillions. On Tuesday, the attorney general of Missouri filed a lawsuit against China for violating Missouri state law in its malfeasance and deception regarding the coronavirus.

While there are many ways to hold China accountable for its malfeasance, it appears the ICJ may be the most straightforward. As Banks’ letter notes, if China fails to submit itself to a fair trial in the International Court of Justice, the Charter of the United Nations explains how states can suspend their obligations to China in order to force Beijing to come to the table.

Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.

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