From his seat on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, last week, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., led a group of Senate colleagues in urging President Donald Trump 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.” As the international community combats the COVID-19 outbreak and confronts the increasing challenges presented by the Chinese Communist Party, 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.
Joining Rubio in signing the letter were fellow Republican U.S. Sens. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah, Dan Sullivan of Alaska and Roger Wicker of Mississippi.
The full text of the letter is below.
Dear Mr. President:
From the beginning of the outbreak of COVID-19, a disease caused by a coronavirus originating in Wuhan, China, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) have gone to great lengths to cover up, deflect, and even directly blame the United States for the outbreak. 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) abuse of international organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO). 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. 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.
We commend you for taking steps to investigate China’s influence within international bodies such as the WHO. A thorough review and investigation is critical for transparency and accountability as well as countering misinformation pushed by the CCP. COVID-19 is not the first disease, nor will it be the last, to make the jump from animals to humans. When the global warning function of the WHO fails, we need to know why. We must also be on alert when the integrity and independence of the world’s international health body has been compromised by the CCP. However, it is critically important that we work closely with our allies and partners to pursue the facts and ensure accountability.
The investigation 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 PRC’s obstruction and distortion demonstrates reckless disregard for global public health. Their subsequent effort to blame the United States, including the U.S. Army, and open talk of conditioning medical assistance on political compliance was absurd and outrageous. 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. 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.
We look forward to working with you to overcome the COVID-19 crisis and address the increasing challenges from the Chinese Communist Party and their efforts to corrupt international organizations. Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.