The five Republicans on a new House committee dedicated to coronavirus oversight are calling for a focus on China’s role in the pandemic — and they want the Chinese ambassador called in to testify.
China “downplayed” the initial outbreak of COVID-19 while “stockpiling medical supplies” and then “manipulated” the World Health Organization to circulate false information, the GOP lawmakers write to committee chairman Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC).
The Republicans demand testimony not only from China’s US ambassador, Cui Tiankai, but also from World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom, whom they accuse of being a willfully blind China cheerleader.
“We urge you to immediately join our investigation and hold hearings to determine why the Chinese government denied and downplayed the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak, and how China is now attempting to exploit the pandemic it caused,” they wrote.
A Democratic spokeswoman for the committee promptly denied the request.
“The Select Committee will follow its mission to ensure that taxpayer money appropriated to address the pandemic is used efficiently, effectively, and equitably. This body is not directed to focus on the origin of the virus,” the spokeswoman said.
The WHO and the Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana signed the letter to Clyburn, which was obtained by The Post, as did Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Blaine Luetkemeyer of Missouri, Jackie Walorski of Indiana and Mark Green of Tennessee.
The GOP request would broaden the committee’s focus as Republicans including President Trump express concern that the panel will be primarily an election-year attack vehicle.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) recently noted that Clyburn’s endorsement of former Vice President Joe Biden reversed his fortunates to make him the Democrats’ presumptive presidential nominee.
Trump told The Post in an Oval Office interview this month that he perceived the Democratic committee members as hostile toward him. “They are trying to form a committee. Every one of the names is a total kill, okay? It’s a total kill,” he said.
Committee Democrats include Reps. Carolyn Maloney of New York, Maxine Waters of California, Nydia Velazquez of New York, Jamie Raskin of Maryland, Bill Foster of Illinois and Andy Kim of New Jersey.
The Republicans argued in the seven-page letter to Clyburn that China should be a focus, in part, because of a drop in medical exports and continued actions to pilfer intellectual property.
“While stealing American pharmaceutical research with one hand, China is brazenly using the other to limit pharmaceutical exports to the United States,” the lawmakers wrote. “The Chinese government’s efforts to undermine the American effort to combat COVID- 19 and sabotage the global economic recovery are ongoing.”