Miss. senator backs bill that would sanction China for obstructing COVID-19 investigations

Sen. Hyde-Smith on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
Sen. Hyde-Smith on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 11:26 AM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith is co-sponsoring a bill that would sanction the Chinese Communist Party for obstructing the international investigations into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bill, known as the Coronavirus Origin, Validation, Investigation, and Determination (COVID) Act of 2022, would authorize sanctions against the party if it continues to block “a credible and comprehensive international investigation into the origins of COVID-19 at laboratories in Wuhan,” according to a news release from Hyde-Smith’s office.

“The Chinese Community Party’s inexcusable roadblocks to legitimate scientific investigations of the coronavirus deserve a strong response by the United States and other world leaders,” Hyde-Smith said in a news release. “The sanctions outlined in this legislation could finally prompt the CCP to help us understand the origins of a health pandemic that started in China and that continues its global rampage.”

If passed, the bill would give the president of the United States the ability to impose sanctions on the leadership of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and its affiliated institutes and laboratories, including the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Sanctions could include blocking prohibiting federal funding for any joint projects between the U.S. and CAS, blocking the transfer of property to the CAS or Wuhan lab that is currently in the possession of the U.S., and revoking visas of CAS officials.

The bill was introduced by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, with 15 Republican senators signing on as co-sponsors.

Sen. Roger Wicker, also of Mississippi, was not among the co-sponsors. However, Wicker has called for China to be held accountable for the global pandemic.

In June, the state’s senior senator issued a statement citing “new evidence” that the virus could have leaked from a Wuhan lab and shared his outrage that the Chinese government was not cooperating with investigators.

At the time, he urged the president to take a harder stance against China and touted Congress’ efforts to hold China accountable.

“Ultimately, we may never know the full truth about the origin of COVID-19. The Chinese Communist Party has frantically sought to cover up what happened, stonewalled international investigators, and even helped write the World Health Organization report about the outbreak’s origins,” he wrote. “Beijing simply expects the world to forget this nightmare and move on.”

The legislation comes even as Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch pledges to move forward on the state’s suit against the People’s Republic of China, months after the nation of more than a billion people has yet to respond to the multiple court summonses. Fitch’s office filed the suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi.

A copy of the legislation is shown below.

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