The Chinese Communist Party has threatened that American politicians seeking to hold China accountable for the coronavirus pandemic will face “severe consequences,” including targeted economic sanctions. An article in the Communist Party’s propaganda outlet, the Global Times, names many Republicans by name, including Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), and Rick Scott (R-Fla.), along with Reps. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) and Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas). It also names the attorneys general of Missouri and Mississippi, the two states that filed lawsuits against China.
“Republicans who have been groundlessly accusing China and inflaming the ‘holding China accountable’ political farce will face severe consequences, sources said, noting that the aftermath will also impact the upcoming November elections, while business and trade between Missouri and China will be further soured,” the Global Times reported.
“China is extremely dissatisfied with the abuse of litigation by the US against China over the COVID-19 epidemic, and is considering punitive countermeasures against US individuals, entities and state officials, such as Missouri’s attorney general Eric Schmitt, who filed a lawsuit against China, seeking compensation for the coronavirus pandemic, sources close to the matter told the Global Times exclusively,” the paper added. “At least four US Congress members, including Josh Hawley and Tom Cotton, and two entities will be put on China’s sanctions list, analysts said.”
Banks, perhaps a lesser-known name on the Chinese Communist Party’s target list, led twenty-one of his fellow Republicans in sending a letter to Attorney General William Barr, demanding the U.S. bring a case against China in the International Court of Justice. He was the first lawmaker to suggest China should pay reparations for the fallout from the coronavirus crisis and he introduced a resolution making it clear that the Chinese government is responsible for the spread of the pandemic.
He said he considers China’s threat against him a “badge of honor.”
“The Chinese government is lashing out at those in the U.S. who are appropriately trying to hold them accountable for intentionally misleading us about the nature of the novel coronavirus, where it was spreading and how quickly things were getting out of control. I consider their threats a badge of honor,” Banks said in a statement on Thursday.
As for the senators, they have supported bills to strip China’s sovereign immunity and permit U.S. citizens to sue the Chinese government for lying about the coronavirus, destroying samples, censoring doctors, and enabling the spread across the world. Hawley, Cotton, and Crenshaw have introduced bills to hold China accountable in this way.
Attorney General Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.) filed a lawsuit last month demanding tens of billions of dollars in damages due to China’s coronavirus malfeasance, which allegedly violated Missouri law. Attorney General Lynn Fitch (R-Miss.) filed a lawsuit allowing Mississippians to bring claims against China.
The British think tank the Henry Jackson Society (HJS), which claimed that the G7 countries should sue China for damages in excess of $4 trillion over the coronavirus crisis, laid out a digestible timeline of the virus’s spread and China’s lies about the disease and failure to contain the spread.
“From the outset, the CCP tried to censor attempts by Chinese citizens to identify and publicise the truth concerning the origins, nature and dangers of the virus. Not all of these censorship efforts succeeded, and a considerable body of independent, corroborative data came to light,” the HJS report explains.
According to unpublished, unconfirmed Chinese government reports seen by the South China Morning Post, the first recorded case of the coronavirus dates to November 17, 2019. By December 8, the SCMP documents recorded between 1 and 5 new cases. By December 27, the SCMP documents showed 181 confirmed cases, and a friend of coronavirus whistleblower Dr. Li Wenliang recalled that his medical department first reported the new outbreak to the Wuhan Center for Disease Control on the 27th.
On December 30, Dr. Li sent a message to his friends about the outbreak, and the police responded by investigating his friends. The authorities forced Dr. Li to pledge not to spread “disruptive rumors.” Meanwhile, by that date, the SCMP documents recorded 266 cases. Li would go on to die of COVID-19 after contracting it from his patients. On December 31, China finally reported the outbreak to the WHO, while claiming there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission.
On January 1, 2020, a Hubei official ordered coronavirus tests halted and samples of the virus destroyed. On January 14, the WHO reported some human-to-human transmission, but quickly retracted the claim, citing Chinese sources. Wuhan was not put under lockdown until January 22-23. On January 26, Wuhan’s mayor admitted that 5 million people had already left the city.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said he had “issued requirements for the prevention and control of the new Coronavirus” as early as January 7. He could have acted to shut down Wuhan as early as January 7, two weeks before the city was shut down. A University of Southampton study found that if strict quarantine measures had been introduced three weeks earlier, the coronavirus’s spread would have been reduced by 95 percent.
As the coronavirus spread across the globe, China’s Communist Party put out a video encouraging Italians to hug Chinese people to prove they weren’t racist — while China was lying about the true danger of the virus. In the early days of the pandemic, China asked other countries for personal protective equipment (PPE) and received 2.4 billion pieces. In fact, it appears Chinese officials prevented the WHO from declaring a global emergency at the time — perhaps in order to hoard as much PPE as possible.
When those countries asked China for PPE, China extorted them — only sending valuable medical aid if political leaders agreed to publicly praise Beijing. Chinese companies also sent faulty medical gear and coronavirus antibody tests to European countries, and a new Associated Press investigation revealed the prevalence of counterfeit masks in America, likely tracing back to a major Chinese factory. Meanwhile, the Communist Party also prevented U.S. companies from shipping their own medical gear back home, where it is sorely needed.
According to the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, the Chinese Communist Party is also attempting cyber espionage on American attempts to create a coronavirus vaccine and cure. Chinese officials are also refusing to cooperate in the search for the coronavirus’ origins.
Given all this, it is no wonder that most Americans have an unfavorable opinion of China (66 percent), according to Pew Research. In fact, a poll this week found that more than two-thirds of Americans (69 percent) say the Chinese Communist Party is either “somewhat responsible” or “very responsible” for the spread of the coronavirus, and 71 percent say China should be “penalized” for it.
China’s threats against American politicians will only fan the flames as Americans increasingly call for the Communist Party to face consequences. This intimidation won’t silence Banks, Cotton, Crenshaw, or the rest — it will only embolden them further, and draw more attention to the truth of Chinese malfeasance.
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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