Republicans slam Biden's 'vague threats' to China over COVID stonewall

Republicans slam Biden's 'vague threats' to China over COVID stonewall

Republican Reps. Rob Wittman, Elise Stefanik believe Biden administration is being too soft on China.

House Republicans are not satisfied with the Biden administration’s stance against the Chinese government when it comes to making sure there is a thorough investigation of the coronavirus pandemic.

National Security adviser Jake Sullivan told "Fox News Sunday" that China would face "isolation from the international community" if a proper probe does not take place, but there are those in Congress who would prefer to see more direct – and immediate – action.

"We are well past the time for vague threats and cheap talk," Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., said in a statement. Wittman went on to say that if the administration "is serious about getting to the truth" about what role China played in COVID-19’s origin, "they must establish tangible consequences should China fail to allow a free and fair investigation into the Wuhan Institute of Virology."

Last week, Wittman and Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., introduced the World Deserves to Know Act, which would impose sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act against members of the Communist Party who are believed to have been involved in limiting free speech, as well as the disappearance of whistleblowers and journalists in connection with the pandemic. Additional sanctions including blocking transactions involving properties in the U.S., ineligibility for visas, and revocation of existing visas would be imposed on Gao Fu, director of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and Ma Xiaowei, minister of China’s National Health Commission.

Wittman doubted that international pressure would be effective and insisted that going after individual officials would be a more proper avenue to take.

"China’s economy is highly intertwined with the rest of the world. Diplomatic pressure is going to be surface level, at best," the congressman said. "We must exert targeted economic pressure -namely sanctions- on key figures within the CCP. That’s exactly what the World Deserves to Know Act does and I hope the Biden Administration realizes we must take a similar approach."

"President Biden and his administration have proven that they will not hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for their lack of transparency and mishandling of the COVID-19 outbreak," Stefanik said. "That is why House Republicans have repeatedly called for an independent investigation into the origins of COVID-19. The World Deserves To Know Act is the latest step in holding Chinese Communist Party officials accountable."

Fox News reached out to the White House for details regarding what Sullivan meant by "isolation from the international community" and how it would be effective, but it did not immediately respond.

Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., gave his own outline for how the country should respond to China.

"Evidence continues to indicate that the CCP intentionally hid information and lied about what it knew to be true about the virus," McCarthy said in a letter to fellow Republicans Monday morning, claiming that President Biden "has failed to utilize any of his broad powers to hold China accountable[.]"

McCarthy pointed to efforts from GOP House members, such as Wittman and Stefanik’s bill, while laying out a multipronged approach to responding to China. In addition to sanctions and restrictions on visas, he pointed to measures such as declassifying intelligence, prohibiting the National Institutes of Health from funding of research in "malevolent foreign countries" including China, continued investigation, relocating the 2022 Olympic Games (currently set to take place in Beijing), and stripping China of sovereign immunity, which would allow family members of those who died from COVID-19 to sue the Chinese government.

While some of these measures are already included in bills that have been introduced, McCarthy said he plans to introduce his full slate of proposals later in the week.