Congress Pushes Back After Chinese Tries to ‘Interfere’ in COVID-19 Investigation

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
April 25, 2023COVID-19
Congress Pushes Back After Chinese Tries to ‘Interfere’ in COVID-19 Investigation
Incumbent Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) speaks to supporters at an election watch party at the Renaissance Hotel in Columbus, Ohio, on Nov. 8, 2022. (Andrew Spear/Getty Images)

Top lawmakers in Congress are pushing back after Chinese officials criticized their investigation into the origins of COVID-19.

The lawmakers are decrying what they describe as an attempt to interfere with the probe and are calling China to make available several researchers to testify.

Li Xiang, a counselor at the U.S. Chinese Embassy, sent a letter to Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, on April 14, stating that Chinese officials “firmly oppose” an upcoming hearing on the COVID-19 origins.

Wenstrup and members of the panel responded on April 24, telling Chinese ambassador to the United States Qin Gang that “this type of interference is unacceptable and will not impede the Select Subcommittee’s efforts.”

“We encourage you to cease and, instead, cooperate with the numerous international investigations into the origins of COVID-19,” they said.

The first COVID-19 cases were detected in China in 2019 in Wuhan, the same city that hosts an institute of laboratories where Chinese researchers experiment on bat coronaviruses. The origins of the new coronavirus remain unknown more than three years later.

In the earlier message, Li said that tracing the origins was “a complex matter of science” and that investigating the origins “should be and can only be conducted jointly by scientists.”

Wenstrup and the other Republicans agreed, noting that the panel includes seven doctors and has spoken to numerous scientists about the matter.

“The Select Subcommittee will continue to gather evidence, take testimony, and follow the facts,” the lawmakers said. “Considering your position, we respectfully request you make scientists under your control available to the Select Subcommittee for in-person transcribed interviews.”

They asked for access to Dr. George Gao, the former director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention; Dr. Shi Zhengli, director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases; Drs. Ben Hu and Huang Yanling, researchers at the institute; and Dr. Chen Wei, a general in the Chinese Communist Party’s People’s Liberation Army.

“Continued stonewalling by China will not only harm the globe’s ability to predict, prepare, protect, and prevent the next pandemic but will also—as your staff so eloquently said it—fail to promote ‘international solidarity,’” the U.S. lawmakers said.

Wenstrup was joined by Reps. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa), Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.), Michael Cloud (R-Texas), John Joyce (R-Pa.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), Ronny Jackson (R-Texas), and Rich McCormick (R-Ga.).

The hearing opposed by China took place on April 18. It included testimony from John Ratcliffe, who served as director of national intelligence from 2020 to 2021. Regarding the COVID-19 origins, Ratcliffe told the panel that a laboratory leak was the “only explanation credibly supported by our intelligence, by science, and by common sense.”

From The Epoch Times

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