Oversight Republicans ask for answers on U.S. efforts to combat Chinese coronavirus propaganda

Published: Apr 2, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC –  Today, several Republican members of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asking for information about how the United States is responding to China’s dangerous and dishonest propaganda efforts amid the coronavirus crisis.

Excerpts from the letter:

“China, like many authoritarian regimes, tightly controls its internal information flow and media. Misinformation from China over the past several months has severely crippled global action to combat the global pandemic and undermined efforts by the State Department to work with other nations around the world to bring a swift end to this crisis.”

“Chinese disinformation efforts have worsened the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and led to indescribable suffering around the world. It is essential the U.S. government works to combat this string of Chinese misinformation.”

Background:

Since the discovery of the virus in December 2019, the Chinese government has taken extraordinary efforts to hide its origination and early spread. These include:

  • Alleged mass coordination between Chinese health officials and the Chinese government to conceal the spread of COVID-19
  • Alleged government-led propaganda campaigns to blame other countries for the spread of COVID-19
  • Reported efforts by the Communist Party of China to censor and silence whistleblowers and scientists
  • The expulsion of American journalists from the country

“Any of these actions taken alone would have hampered the ability for a coordinated global response,” the letter reads. “Taken together, however, the course chosen by Chinese officials dating back to December 2019 has led to economies broken across the globe and billions of lives upended as a result.”

Read the full text of the letter here.

What members are saying:

“Communist China lied about their data, destroyed evidence, and allowed the Wuhan virus to spread around the world. China arrested the very doctors who tried to warn the world about what was happening, and other whistleblowers have gone missing,” said Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ). “China’s deception and misinformation campaign cost the global community valuable time to mitigate the spread of the Wuhan virus, and they should be held accountable for unleashing this virus on the world.”

“Thanks to Communist China’s propaganda surrounding COVID-19, we are in the midst of a global pandemic,” said Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL). “Their blatant disinformation campaign has wreaked havoc on our economy and millions of Americans. We must investigate them and hold those responsible accountable for their actions.”

“The communist government of China has intensified the spread of the coronavirus through coverups and lies,” said Rep. Michael Cloud (R-TX). “China’s authoritarian regime is no friend of the United States, and we must combat its propaganda campaigns here at home and abroad.”

“Our first priority in Congress is to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. We also have an obligation to challenge China for their deceit and misinformation campaign,” said Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND). We must ensure the Chinese Communist Party is not using this global health crisis to their advantage now or in the future.”

“For years people have speculated whether, in the long run, an open and democratic society like ours is truly better than a closed and authoritarian system like China’s,” said Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC). “Today the answer is once again evident; that transparency and accountability saves lives.  With 50,000 worldwide deaths and counting, the price of censorship is unconscionable.”

“The Chinese Communist regime’s attempt to mislead the world has greatly exacerbated the current pandemic,” said Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA). “America deserves to know the full extent of China’s deception.”

“As our country, and the world, responds to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we must strive for cooperation and partnership between all nations in our fight against this virus,” said Rep. Carol Miller (R-WV). “Disinformation and censorship are completely counterproductive to our goal of stopping the spread, treating all who are ill, rebuilding our economy, and returning to normalcy. In order to accomplish this, it is essential that we promote honesty and transparency while we work to address this global crisis.”

“The Chinese Communist regime has made this problem exponentially worse by not being truthful about the contagiousness and dangerousness of COVID-19, instead engaging in a campaign of blame-shifting, misinformation, and propaganda,” said Rep. Fred Keller (R-PA). “It is imperative we learn more about the depth of China’s deceit to determine how best to hold them accountable for their part in exacerbating this pandemic.”

“The biggest enemy we face besides the virus itself is the rampant spread of disinformation from the Chinese government. Their efforts to suppress facts and information has worsened the devastation of this pandemic, underreporting their total number of cases and deaths caused by COVID-19,” said Rep. Comer (R-KY). “In addition, their government-led propaganda to blame other countries for the spread of the virus, expulsion of American journalists, and censorship of whistleblowers and scientists shows just how reckless their disinformation campaign is. We must hold those accountable who are playing a part perpetuating this terrible pandemic and fight to ensure facts come to light.”