News & Politics

GOP Report: China's Coronavirus Cover-up Turned 'a Local Pandemic Into a Global Pandemic'

In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping talks by video with patients and medical workers at the Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province, Tuesday, March 10, 2020. China's president visited the center of the global virus outbreak Tuesday as Italy began a sweeping nationwide travel ban and people worldwide braced for the possibility of recession. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. (Xie Huanchi/Xinhua via AP)

On Monday, Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, Republican leader on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, released an interim report on the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. His report highlights how the Chinese Communist Party cover-up of the pandemic helped allow a local pandemic become a global pandemic.

“After months of investigating, it’s become crystal clear the Chinese Communist Party’s cover-up of the coronavirus, especially in the early days of the outbreak, played a significant role in turning what could have been a local epidemic into a global pandemic,” McCaul said in a statement with the report.

“And, unfortunately, the World Health Organization [WHO] under the leadership of Director General Tedros [Adhanom Ghebreyesus] only exacerbated the problem by repeatedly ignoring warnings about the severity of the virus, including from their own health experts, while at the same time parroting the CCP’s propaganda without independently confirming their claims,” McCaul added. “This was a failure of monumental proportions and it is imperative that we uncover the truth so we can set up future safeguards to prevent this from happening yet again.”

The Republicans on the committee researched the origins of the pandemic for months, using multiple sources of information, including WeChat logs and social media posts from doctors and residents of Wuhan, domestic and international open-source media reports, academic papers, and intelligence reports. A more expansive report will come in the next few months.

In brief, the report outlines four major issues: the early stages of the pandemic, the Chinese Communist Party’s cover-up, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and the WHO’s damning missteps.

Early stages of coronavirus pandemic

According to the report, China had sufficient information to warrant a full-scale public health response to the coronavirus as early as mid-December 2019. However, the Communist Party “repeatedly and intentionally violated the 2005 International Health Regulations (IHR) that were put in place after Beijing’s failed response to SARS between 2002-2004.”

The WHO ignored reports from Taiwan, outside experts, and the media.

DAMNING: Trump Outlines WHO’s Shameful Complicity With China in Covering Up Coronavirus

China’s cover-up

“The CCP actively engaged in a cover-up designed to limit the spread of information about the virus,” the report concludes. “These efforts included punishing doctors, disappearing journalists, censoring the internet in the PRC, spreading disinformation on social media, and withholding information from the WHO and [the] international community.”

Even now, China has refused to provide the international community with “lab samples, accurate case data, and access to sites of interest around Wuhan.”

This cover-up “means it is unlikely that we will be able to identify the source of the outbreak,” the report warns. Yet General-Secretary Xi Jinping and other senior leaders “knew a pandemic was occurring weeks before they implemented a lockdown in Wuhan.”

The report cites a University of Southampton study which found that if the Communist Party had enacted strict quarantine measures three weeks earlier, the coronavirus spread would have been reduced by 95 percent.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology

The report cites State Department cables from 2018 which suggest ongoing safety issues, which, at a different lab in Beijing in 2004, resulted in the accidental release of the SARS virus. It also notes that during the construction of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the French military and intelligence services became suspicious that China would use the technology in a dangerous way.

The lab’s leaders are members of the Chinese Communist Party, and the lab “has a long history of coronavirus research activities.” Earlier this year, a senior bioweapons expert in China’s People’s Liberation Army took charge of the BSL-4 lab.

The WHO’s missteps

The report faults Tedros and the WHO for having “overly relied on unverifiable CCP talking points,” rather than conducting independent investigations. In doing so, the World Health Organization “appears to have repeatedly violated” the IHR and its obligations to member states.

Perhaps most damning, the WHO claimed for weeks that there was no human-to-human transmission, despite warnings from the University of Hong Kong and elsewhere. When the WHO finally admitted there was evidence of human-to-human transmission, China complained and the WHO withdrew its statement. At the time, China had requested personal protective equipment (PPE) from other countries, and Beijing received 2.4 billion pieces.

Later, when other 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 to European countries and to the U.S. Meanwhile, the Communist Party also prevented U.S. companies from shipping their own medical gear back home, where it is sorely needed.

It appears the WHO helped enable China’s stockpiling of PPE, which allowed Beijing to later extort other countries.

The Republican report also alleges that Tedros and the WHO “continue to use misleading statements in public statements and written material that enables CCP propaganda, misinformation, and revisionist history regarding COVID-19.”

This is merely the latest report in a long line of increasing revelations of China’s lies, cover-ups, and other malfeasance during the coronavirus pandemic raised serious questions about whether or not countries affected by the pandemic should bring legal action in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Beijing for violating its obligations under the IHR.

Chinese authorities covered up the outbreak early on, going so far as to destroy samples of the coronavirus. The Chinese Communist Party threatened doctors who dared to share information about the coronavirus and did not put Wuhan — where the outbreak originated — under lockdown until 5 million people had already left the city.

The State of Missouri has already filed a lawsuit to hold China accountable, and there is a growing chorus of voices demanding the U.S. sue the Chinese Communist Party in an international court. China has even threatened U.S. senators by name who dared to call Beijing to account for its malfeasance. Americans want to see China held accountable.

Even so, the story of China’s malfeasance is only likely to get worse. Stay tuned.

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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