House Foreign Affairs Committee Republicans on Monday morning released its final report on the Chinese Communist Party’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, China, which provided damning details of how Beijing tried to hide the outbreak of the coronavirus, allowing for its spread to the rest of the world.
“As we continued our investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, we uncovered even more disturbing evidence about the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) coverup and WHO Director General Tedros’s gross mishandling of the virus that allowed it to turn into a deadly pandemic,” said the committee’s top Republican Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), who led the investigation.
It is crystal clear that had the CCP been transparent, and had the head of the WHO cared more about global health than appeasing the CCP, lives could have been spared and widespread economic devastation could have been mitigated. Revealing the truth is just the first step; we must hold both the CCP and WHO Director General Tedros accountable for the suffering they have allowed the world to endure.
The report, which is a follow-up to its interim report issued in June, contains more details and new information about how the CCP punished a nurse from speaking out about the virus early on, forced American companies in China to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) for its citizens only, instructed Chinese companies around the world to begin buying up critical supplies, and threatened other countries economically if they spoke out against China.
Investigators obtained a January 26, 2020, discipline notice for a nurse, Li Min, in the eastern city of Taizhou who discussed the virus’s outbreak in her city with classmates and family via the messaging app WeChat — revealing a widespread crackdown of medical professionals in the country. Taizhou is a ten-hour drive to Wuhan, where the virus originated and where the CCP first tried to silence local doctors.
The discipline notice was issued as World Health Organization (W.H.O.) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was to arrive in Beijing to discuss COVID-19 with Chinese President and CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping. On January 29, 2020, Tedros praised the CCP’s response to the virus, calling it “very impressive, and beyond words” and that the CCP was “actually setting a new standard for outbreak response.”
The report also reveals how during the early stages of the outbreak, the CCP began procuring millions of protective masks, medical gowns, and gloves on the international market and shipping hundreds of tons of PPE to China. The report also reveals that the CCP nationalized the supply chains and manufacturing capacity of American companies in China — including General Motors and 3M — to produce medical supplies while denying export licenses for their products.
This helped China and hurt the U.S. and other countries’ ability to procure PPE, according to the report:
This enabled the [People’s Republic of China] to increase production of face masks from 20 million to more than 100 million per day, at the expense of foreign companies being allowed to export their products – several manufactures have stated that the PRC would not authorize them to export PPE produced in their facilities.
It is highly likely that China’s nationalization of the manufacturing capacity of foreign companies, including 3M and General Motors, directly impacted the ability of the United States and other countries to procure PPE on the global market.
As countries began to call for an international investigation into China’s coverup, the CCP then threatened to cut off critical supplies and waged a campaign of economic coercion to silence them, according to the report.
The report said that after Australia requested an international investigation into the origins of COVID-19 and the early stages of the outbreak, the Chinese Ambassador to Australia Cheng Jingye threatened a boycott of Australian goods in an interview with Australian Financial Review: “Maybe the ordinary people will say ‘Why should we drink Australian wine? Eat Australian beef?”
Within days, China suspended beef imports from Australia’s four largest meat processors and announced tariffs totaling 80.5 percent on Australian barley imports that will remain in place for five years, the report said.
The report also heavily criticized the W.H.O.’s response and Tedros’s deference to China, which aided China’s coverup and slowed the global response.
The report’s conclusion states:
Senior CCP leaders, including CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping, knew a pandemic was ongoing weeks before it was announced. Instead of warning the world, the CCP chose to nationalize foreign supply chains and secretively buy up medical supplies in foreign countries to ship to the PRC. When countries complained, or advocated for an investigation into the CCP cover-up, the PRC threatened bans on exports or instituted massive tariffs to punish those countries. The CCP continues to seek to bully not only the WHO, but other countries around the world who want to understand the core failures that lead to COVID-19 becoming a global pandemic.
Research shows the CCP could have reduced the number of cases in China by up to 95% had it fulfilled its obligations under international law and responded to the outbreak in a manner consistent with best practices. It is highly likely the ongoing pandemic could have been prevented. The WHO, despite internal discussions about the lack of transparency and cooperation from the CCP, continues to praise General Secretary Xi and the PRC for its handling of the virus. As such, it is incumbent upon the United States and likeminded WHO Member States to ensure the accountability and reforms at the WHO necessary to prevent the CCP’s malfeasance from giving rise to a third pandemic during the 21st century.