China needs to be accountable for the damage done because it failed to deal honestly with the world at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to one Republican congressman from Florida.
To that end, Republican Rep. Brian Mast planned to introduce legislation Thursday that would allow the U.S. to withhold payments on debts to China as a form of punishment, according to Fox News.
Mast authored a resolution last year to punish China, but it failed to advance in the Democrat-controlled House, a fate that is likely for this year’s legislation as well.
But Mast is planning to take his stand again as his way of marking the one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization’s declaration that the coronavirus was a pandemic.
Mast noted in his legislation that the cover-up of the origins and severity of the virus has been a continuing hallmark of China’s actions on the disease.
The Chinese Communist Party “actively engaged in a cover-up designed to obfuscate data and hide relevant public health information,” which continues to “limit efforts to identify the original source of COVID-19,” his proposal said.
“The People’s Republic of China should be held accountable for its handling of the COVID-10,” the legislation said.
Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee issued a report last year that said China “could have reduced the number of cases in China by up to 95%, had it fulfilled its obligations under international law and implemented a public health response at an earlier date.”
That should not go unpunished, according to Mast.
“The United States and other countries should permanently withhold payments on debts owed to the People’s Republic of China in amounts equal to the public costs incurred by such countries relating to COVID-19,” his proposal said.
Mast said the U.S. has been forced to bear costs for fighting the disease that have their root in China’s unwillingness to be open about the pandemic.
“China’s total lack of transparency and mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak has cost hundreds of thousands of lives, millions of jobs, and left untold economic destruction in the United States,” the congressman said.
“Congress must put America first and hold China accountable for their cover-up by forcing them to pay back the taxpayer dollars that have been spent as a result,” he said.
Mast’s office told Fox News that China holds more than $1 trillion of the debt owed by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.