Washington, DC— Today, Representative John Curtis (R-UT), member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, released the following statement about his bill to hold accountable foreign officials who attempted to conceal public health information related to COVID-19 during its early discovery and give authority to sanction any foreign official who may conceal a future outbreak.
The Congressman introduced the legislation in the House of Representatives last week with cosponsors Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY), Mike Gallagher (R-WI), Ted Yoho (R-FL), Jim Banks (R-IN), Rob Bishop (R-UT), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Dan Crenshaw (R-TX). Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Josh Hawley (R-MO) will be introducing the legislation in the Senate shortly.
“As Dr. Li Wenliang said, ‘A Healthy Society Shouldn’t Only Have One Voice.’ By suppressing critical public health information, officials in China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, and elsewhere have demonstrated they care more about maintaining their grip on power than the health and wellbeing of their people,” said Curtis. “The Li Wenliang Global Public Health Accountability Act—named after the heroic Chinese doctor whistleblower—will ensure that dictators and their cronies think twice before once allowing a local health crisis spiral out of control into a pandemic that endangers the globe.”
There is strong and growing evidence that Chinese officials accelerated the spread of COVID-19 by choosing to not take early action to stop the virus, even after Chinese Doctor Li Wenliang blew the whistle on the virus’ capabilities. He was reprimanded by local authorities and later died from the virus. Other authoritarian countries such as Iran and Russia have been criticized for their lack of transparency as well.
The Li Wenliang Global Public Health Accountability Act would sanction any foreign senior official responsible for deliberately concealing vital public health data concerning the outbreak of a disease with the potential to become a pandemic. It would also sanction any official who profited off of the concealment of information, and anyone acting on their behalf. Sanctions include the revoking of visas and the seizing of assets.
Text of the bill available HERE.