“The CCP (Chinese Communist Party) is carrying out a disinformation campaign in an attempt to transfer blame to the United States and that is exacerbating this dire situation,” McCaul wrote in a March 26 letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“To refute the CCP’s dangerous disinformation campaign, the United States should work with like-minded democracies, including Taiwan, to produce a definitive account of the origins of the virus, the CCP’s culpability, and how their undue influence undermined the legitimacy of the WHO [World Health Organization] at this critical time.”
He also called for a “multilateral investigation into the CCP’s coronavirus coverup.”
The escalating global outbreak started in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province, in December 2019. Now, the virus has spread to almost 200 countries and territories, and killed over 25,000 people outside of mainland China.
The Chinese regime initially covered up the outbreak when it silenced eight doctors, among them ophthalmologist Li Wenliang, after they posted on Chinese social media about an “unknown pneumonia” spreading in Wuhan. Li was subsequently summoned to a local police station and was reprimanded for “rumor-mongering.”
The WHO also initially repeated Beijing’s claim that there was “no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission” for the virus.
Since early March, Beijing began aggressively pushing a global propaganda campaign to deflect attention from its mishandling of the outbreak.
Chinese state-run media began peddling false conspiracy theories about the CCP virus, such as accusing the U.S. military of bringing the virus to Wuhan. A number of Chinese officials also spread that narrative on their Twitter accounts.
In recent days, Chinese state media has also targeted U.S. President Donald Trump, promoting hashtags such as “#Trump Pandemic” and “Trump Virus” on social media.
McCaul urged cooperation with Taiwan, which has received international acclaim for its success in containing the outbreak, with a relatively low number of 298 confirmed cases and three deaths as of March 29—despite being just 80 miles from mainland China.
However, Taiwan is also facing a growing threat from China’s disinformation efforts. On March 25, local lawmaker Chao Tien-lin, a member of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), stated that local authorities detected 96,000 items of false information being spread online and in the media—of which 23,000 were related to the virus—from Jan. 1 to March 22. Chao cited data from Taiwan’s National Security Bureau.
In one example, police officials in Taiwan’s Taoyuan city informed the public in early March about a fake city government document being circulated online. The document claimed that local authorities had imposed a lockdown on the city in order to prevent the virus from spreading, according to government-run Central News Agency.
The Taoyuan police traced the document to an IP address in China, where somebody was pretending to be a Facebook user named “Zhang Xiang” in Taiwan.
McCaul called for international allies to investigate the Chinese regime’s coverup that led to an eventual global pandemic.
“The tragic CCP coronavirus coverup is a call to action and a call for fairness,” he wrote in the letter.
McCaul also asked the State Department to consider sending a “formal legislative proposal” to Congress for any “new authorities you may need to most effectively address the CCP’s disinformation campaign.”
On March 24, he sent a letter to the CEOs of Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Twitter, calling on the U.S. tech giants to ban from their platforms all Chinese state-run media outlets and CCP officials who were disseminating disinformation about the CCP virus. Amazon no longer operates in China, while the other three companies are banned in China.
“It is disappointing that CCP officials can block your platforms’ access in China, yet can register verified accounts and spread lies, which apparently do not violate some company’s terms of service,” McCaul wrote.