WASHINGTON, D.C. – According to an exclusive report by Fox News, Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) has introduced legislation to permanently withhold payments from the United States – and possibly other countries as well – on debts owed to the People’s Republic of China as a form of punishment for the country’s handling and alleged cover-up of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The legislation – introduced Thursday morning – claims that China “actively engaged in a cover-up designed to obfuscate data and hide relevant public health information,” the effects of which continue to “limit efforts to identify the original source of COVID-19.”
China’s first case of COVID-19 was initially detected in November 2019, with doctors noting the first human-to-human transmitted case on December 8, 2019; however, China failed to report this to the World Health Organization until December 31, 2019.
“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,” Mast recently said to Fox News.
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Mast’s legislation demands that China be held accountable for its handling of the COVID-19 by hitting the country where it would hurt the most- in its wallet.
“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,” the bill says.
Mast’s office has noted that the U.S. government owed China $1.063 trillion in debt as of November 2020.
Mast had originally introduced similar legislation in 2020, but it failed to make its way through the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives. A similar fate likely awaits this new bill as well, experts say.
Republican members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee claimed in 2020 that China “could have reduced the number of cases in China by up to 95 percent, had it fulfilled its obligations under international law and implemented a public health response at an earlier date.”