WASHINGTON—Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) is in only his second year as a U.S. senator and, at 40, he is the youngest member of “the world’s greatest deliberative body,” but none of that keeps him from having a high profile in Washington—and in Beijing.
The latest illustration of Hawley’s impact is a tweet he circulated March 18 calling for “a full, international investigation of #China Communist Party’s actions that helped turn #coronavirus #COVID19 into a global pandemic — and #China needs to be prepared to pay other countries for the havoc the CCP has unleashed.”
The Missouri Republican was responding to Lachlan Markay, an investigative journalist with the Daily Beast, who said that “a Wuhan lab that identified COVID-19 as a highly contagious pathogen in late December was ordered by local officials to stop tests and destroy samples. Beijing is now scrambling to censor the story.”
The CCP virus, or novel coronavirus, has to date spread to virtually every country in the world and has caused at least 9,989 deaths, including 174 in the United States, according to the latest available data.
China, with a reported 3,245 deaths, Italy with 3,405, and Iran with 1,284, are the nations hit hardest by the disease, which to date has taken its heaviest toll among the elderly and individuals with compromised immune systems.
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.
Hawley is often in the headlines on issues involving China. Last week, he closely questioned witnesses during a Senate hearing on the dangers to Americans of the current extreme dependence by the United States on drugs and medical supplies such as surgical masks and ventilators made in China.
Hawley earlier had introduced the “Medical Supply Chain Security Act of 2020” that authorizes the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to require manufacturers to “report imminent or forecasted shortages of life-saving or life-sustaining medical devices to the FDA just as they currently do for pharmaceutical drugs.”
The measure also allows the FDA to “expedite the review” of essential medical devices that require pre-market approval, and gives the agency new authority to compile information from manufacturers on their operations.
The information to be compiled includes “sourcing of component parts, sourcing of active pharmaceutical ingredients, use of any scarce raw materials, and any other details the FDA deems relevant to assess the security of the U.S. medical product supply chain.”
The measure is needed, according to Hawley, because the United States has become almost totally dependent upon China for more than 150 drugs, including antibiotics, generics, and branded products.
In October 2019, at the height of massive demonstrations by hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong citizens demanding protection of their civil liberties against abuses by mainland China, Hawley flew there, spoke to multiple leaders of the protests, and posted a video on Twitter talking about his support for the movement.
That video resulted in a clash with the CCP’s chosen Hong Kong official, Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who accused Hawley of being “totally irresponsible” and making “unfounded” accusations about a “police state.”
Other actions by Hawley that target China include a measure he co-sponsored with Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) that bars the TikTok app from being used on any federal computer.
“TikTok is owned by a Chinese company that includes Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members on its board, and it is required by law to share user data with Beijing,” Hawley said in a statement.
“The company even admitted it collects user data while their app is running in the background – including the messages people send, pictures they share, their keystrokes and location data, you name it. As many of our federal agencies have already recognized, TikTok is a major security risk to the United States, and it has no place on government devices.”
The measure followed from a Senate hearing Hawley chaired in which he opened the proceeding by noting that TikTok was the most downloaded app of 2019 and now has more teen users than Facebook.
The federal departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and State, as well as the Transportation Security Administration have banned use of TikTok, but other government agencies have not.
“This is a major national security issue for the American people,” Hawley said.
Contact Mark Tapscott at Mark.Tapscott@epochtimes.nyc.