Three Republican senators are calling for the creation of a new task force to counter Beijing’s escalating disinformation campaign against the United States surrounding the CCP virus.
Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), and Mitt Romney (R-Utah), in a March 23 letter to President Donald Trump, propose the establishment of an interagency task force, under the command of the White House National Security Council (NSC), to counter propaganda spread by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) amid the worldwide pandemic.
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.
“Now that COVID-19 has spread rapidly around the globe, the CCP and its officials have the audacity to spread disingenuous claims that the United States is responsible for this pandemic. This is not simply dishonest, it is dangerous,” the senators wrote.
They added: “The Chinese Communist Party is manipulating facts surrounding a global pandemic that originated due to their own incompetence. While the rest of the world scrambles to clean up the CCP’s mess, they continue to seek geopolitical advantage and undermine the U.S. at every turn.”
The senators said that the taskforce should produce a white paper on the origins of the outbreak and subsequent CCP efforts to conceal its severity.
It should also provide guidance to U.S. government employees and U.S. embassies on how to counter false CCP narratives.
The escalating global outbreak started in Wuhan, the capital of central China’s Hubei Province, in December 2019.
Since early March, the Chinese regime has been aggressively pushing a global propaganda campaign to deflect attention from its initial mishandling of the outbreak.
Chinese officials have suggested that the virus did not originate from China, and have even accused the United States of being responsible for the outbreak that has now spread to over 180 countries and regions and killed more than 10,000 people outside of China.
On March 13, the U.S. State Department summoned China’s ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai, after Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson of China’s foreign ministry, accused the U.S. Army of bringing the CCP virus into Wuhan.
China’s state-run media CCTV and Xinhua have added their voices to the disinformation campaign. For instance, a commentator on state-run media CCTV recently claimed that the United States was quick to start working on a vaccine for the virus because it possessed the CCP virus long before the outbreak began.
State media has also recently targeted Trump, promoting hashtags such as “#Trump Pandemic” on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
The three senators wrote that China’s propaganda “threatens to undermine the worldwide coordination necessary to combat this coronavirus,” in addition to “being a despicable exploitation of a global emergency.”
The taskforce would include representatives from multiple U.S. departments, including the State Department, the Pentagon, and the Treasury Department, as well as agencies within the intelligence community.
“It is critical that our country fight back against this propaganda and an interagency taskforce under the aegis of the NSC is a distinctive tool to formulate a coordinated, USG-wide response,” the senators wrote.
The senators suggested that Trump could allocate funding for the taskforce under the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act (ARIA).
ARIA, which became law in December 2018, calls for increased U.S. engagement in the Indo-Pacific while countering China’s strategic influence in the region.