WASHINGTON: A powerful group of Senators Thursday urged President Donald Trump to work with American allies such as Japan, South Korea, and European nations to pursue an open and transparent probe into the origins of the novel coronavirus, as well as the WHO's decision-making on the crisis.
Led by Republican Senator Marco Rubio from Florida, the Senators also urged the President to appoint a high-level Envoy to lead international coordination efforts both for COVID-19 response and for related investigations.
Other signatories to the letter are Senators Marsha Blackburn, Thom Tillis, John Cornyn, Roger Wicker, Ted Cruz, Dan Sullivan and Mike Lee.
From the beginning of the outbreak of COVID-19, a disease caused by a novel coronavirus originated in Wuhan, China, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) have gone great lengths to cover up, deflect, and even directly blame the United States for the outbreak, the Senators alleged.
Once this pandemic is under control, there will need to be a thorough international investigation into the origins of the virus and the People's Republic of China's (PRC) alleged abuse of international organisations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), they said.
"Therefore, we urge you to direct your administration, including Secretary Pompeo and Ambassador Craft to work with our allies and partners such as Japan, South Korea, and European nations to pursue an open and transparent investigation into the origins of COVID-19, as well as the WHO's decision-making related to the crisis," the Senators said.
"We also urge you to appoint a high-level Presidential Envoy to lead international coordination efforts both for COVID-19 response and for related investigations," said the letter dated April 17.
The investigation, the Senators said, should lead to a detailed understanding of the WHO's decision-making during the early days of the outbreak.
This includes any pressure it received from Beijing to downplay the apparent spread of the virus and its treatment of Taiwan, a strong democratic partner of the United States, that appears to deserve global recognition for its management of COVID-19, despite the constant roadblocks and harassment from the CCP, the lawmakers wrote.
China's alleged obstruction and distortion demonstrate reckless disregard for global public health.
Their subsequent effort to blame the United States, including the US Army, and open talk of conditioning medical assistance on political compliance was absurd and outrageous, the lawmakers wrote.
Such action should be no surprise from a regime that detains more than one million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities, a nation that walked away from its commitments to Hong Kong's autonomy, and imprisons or expels independent journalists at an increasing pace, they said.
"Should China refuse to cooperate on a forensic review, both of the origins of COVID-19 and WHO decision-making, then it would further prove that the CCP has no intention of acting as a responsible international actor even on areas where there is clearly a shared, human interest in cooperation," the Senators said.
Meanwhile, Senator Ted Cruz, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has announced to introduce a legislation to sanction Chinese officials responsible for censoring whistleblowers and suppressing the sort of medical information that could have prevented the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan from becoming a global pandemic.
"When it comes to this Wuhan outbreak, the Chinese Communist government has direct responsibility, direct culpability for silencing, for covering it up.
When you had brave physician whistle-blowers blowing the whistle, the Chinese government came down on them, they silenced them," he told Fox News in an interview.
"They did everything they could to keep it quiet.
Had they acted promptly, there may well have been a possibility this could have been contained as a regional outbreak.
Instead, it became a global pandemic.
And the lives lost, many of those are directly at China's doorstep," he said.