Beijing Must Allow WHO a Full, Transparent Investigation Into Virus Origin: US Lawmaker

January 18, 2021 Updated: January 18, 2021

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) is calling on Beijing to be transparent with a team of investigators from the World Health Organization (WHO) who are currently in China to study the origin of the CCP virus.

“As we reach the grim milestone of two million COVID-19 related deaths [globally], the Chinese Communist Party, sadly, continues to block efforts to determine the origins of this deadly disease,” stated McCaul in a Jan. 17 press release.

After months of painstaking negotiations, Beijing finally agreed to allow international experts to visit China to investigate the origin of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus. The planned trip to China hit a snag in early January, after the WHO publicly criticized Beijing for delaying the experts’ visit.

It was a rare public rebuke for the WHO, which parroted China’s claims about the virus outbreak during much of 2020. For example, in early January last year, it repeated Beijing’s claim that there was no risk of human-to-human transmission.

According to China’s foreign ministry, a group of 13 international experts arrived in Wuhan, the city where the virus originated, on Jan. 14. The team subsequently checked into a local hotel that was converted into a quarantine center.

McCaul warned: “If we are going to try to stop future pandemics like this one from killing millions, the CCP must be fully transparent and allow an outside, unbiased and thorough investigation into the origins of COVID-19.”

He added: “And if they refuse, the WHO must publicly and forcefully condemn their actions. Failure to do so on both parts will only cause a further loss of life.”

While it remains to be seen whether Chinese authorities will grant unfettered access to these international experts once their mandatory quarantine period comes to an end, Beijing has stepped up online censorship in the face of the latest surge of COVID-19 cases in northern China.

In northern China’s Jilin Province, a superspreader, a 45-year-old man surnamed Lin, infected at least 143 people in the province, Chinese state-run media reported on Jan. 17.

Radio Free Asia reported on Jan. 13 that several Chinese netizens, located in provinces including Hebei, Jilin, and Jiangxi, were punished by local police for their online comments about COVID-19.

For example, a man surnamed Han in Handan city in Hebei was given 10-day administrative detention and fined 500 yuan ($77). Local police claimed that his online comment was a “rumor.” He wrote on Chinese social media WeChat on Jan. 6 that there was a suspected patient living in a village in Handan.

On Jan. 18, Weiquanwang, a Chinese website devoted to news about human rights activists, reported on its website that Chinese authorities recently began to scrub the internet of articles about Chinese whistleblower doctor Li Wenliang, as the one-year anniversary of his death drew near.

Li, an ophthalmologist, was one of several Chinese doctors who first warned of an “unknown pneumonia” outbreak on Chinese social media on Dec. 30, 2019. After his online warning went viral, he was summoned to a local police station on Jan. 3 and reprimanded for “rumor-mongering.”

A month later, on Feb. 7 last year, Li died after contracting the virus himself while unknowingly treating an infected patient.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a tweet on Jan. 16, called on people to search the words “Li Wenliang” online.

“CCP disappeared the doctors who knew. CCP still refuses to let the world in to see what it wrought. CCP lied about where the virus came from,” Pompeo added.

Follow Frank on Twitter: @HwaiDer