Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) introduced a bipartisan resolution in Congress that seeks to condemn the Chinese regime for intentionally downplaying the CCP virus outbreak through censorship and disinformation, thus allowing it to morph into a global crisis.
The resolution was filed on March 24, according to Banks’s office.
“As the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) pushes propaganda and lies to try and blame the United States for coronavirus, we need to make the case to the world that China is ultimately responsible for this outbreak,” Banks told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement.
“They tried to cover up news of the virus, jailed doctors warning of a possible pandemic, and prevented the CDC from coming to study the disease,” he continued.
“In all, they cost the globe two months in time to prepare for this virus.”
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the CCP’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.
Banks said he hoped the resolution “begins a conversation about how China can be held accountable for their negligent coronavirus response.”
Co-led by Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), the resolution has more than 35 co-sponsors, including Reps. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.), Austin Scott (R-Ga.), Trent Kelly (R-Miss.), Brian Babin (R-Texas), Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), Greg Steube (R-Fla.), Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.), Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.), Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.), Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.), and Jason Smith (R-Mo.).
Beijing made “multiple, serious mistakes in the early stages” of the outbreak that “heightened the severity and spread” of the pandemic, the resolution states.
“The Chinese Communist Party’s leaders responded to the coronavirus outbreak first with disinformation and misdirection,” Moulton told The Epoch Times in an email. “China’s leaders silenced doctors, some of whom died sounding the alarm to the world.”
The resolution says that government documents revealed that the first patient appeared in China’s Hubei Province on Nov. 17, 2019. Later in December, several doctors who sounded the alarm about the outbreak were silenced by authorities and reprimanded for “spreading rumors,” the resolution adds.
After Dr. Li Wenliang, a whistleblower, alerted his medical peers about a SARS-like virus on social media site WeChat, police summoned him for “rumor-mongering” and made him sign a statement promising not to repeat the transgression. Li eventually died of the virus that he had warned about.
On Jan. 1, an official from Hubei provincial health commission ordered at least one genomics company to cease virus samples testing and destroy all existing samples, the resolution stated.
It added that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first requested to send experts into China to study the virus on Jan. 6, but were barred from entering the country until about a month later.
A March study by University of Southampton researchers, currently in preprint, suggested that officials in China could have cut the number of total infections down by 95 percent had they enacted measures to contain the virus’s spread three weeks earlier than they did, in late January.
Banks, in a recent interview with The Epoch Times, said Beijing should be forced to pay reparations for the damage caused by its coverup of the outbreak.
“China should pay a severe price for that negligence, for their role in the matter of allowing this to happen,” Banks said.
The resolution also called out the regime’s comprehensive disinformation campaign, as an attempt to shift blame for the outbreak.
“While the clock was ticking, China’s leaders were focused on spreading propaganda that said the American military caused the virus, downplaying its severity,” Moulton said.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian on multiple occasions pushed the unfounded conspiracy theory that the virus first originated in the United States and was brought to Wuhan by the U.S. Army.
The resolution noted that other Chinese officials, including scientists working in Beijing’s outbreak response team, China’s ambassador to South Africa, and China’s ambassador to Australia, also have claimed that the outbreak didn’t begin in China.