FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: James Arnold or Mary Collins Atkinson (202) 224-2353
June 10, 2021 

Cotton, Colleagues Introduce Li Wenliang Global Public Health Accountability Act

Washington, D.C. — Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina), Rick Scott (R-Florida), Steve Daines (R-Montana), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), and James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) reintroduced the Li Wenliang Global Public Health Accountability Act, legislation to authorize the president to sanction foreign officials who suppress or distort information about international public health crises, including Covid-19. Bill text may be found here.

“Dr. Li tried to warn his country and the world about the coronavirus, but was silenced by the Chinese Communist Party. By hiding the truth about the virus, the CCP turned a regional health problem into a global catastrophe that has killed millions. To honor Dr. Li, our bill seeks to punish foreign officials responsible for suppressing information about international health crises, including the Wuhan virus,” said Cotton.

“Doctors and scientists across the world deserve robust protections that allow them to sound the alarm on international public health concerns without fear of government suppression,” said Tillis. “Dr. Li Wenliang heroically tried to warn Chinese citizens about COVID-19, only to be silenced by the authoritarian Chinese Communist Party until his tragic death. The Chinese government must be held accountable so no other nation feels emboldened to cover-up a public health crisis that can turn into a global pandemic. I am proud to work with my colleagues on this commonsense legislation.”

“Throughout the past year, we saw Communist China lie and spread propaganda in an attempt to cover up a global pandemic, silencing any and all who dared speak the truth. This legislation will give the United States the authority to sanction any foreign official who suppresses or distorts information about global health, like the Chinese Communist Government did. When lives are at risk, we can’t take any chances,” said Scott.

“The American people and the entire world deserve to know the origins of this pandemic, which China continues to cover up. We need to ensure there are real consequences for foreign officials who try to cover up their country’s role in an international crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic going forward,” said Daines.

“The Chinese Communist Party silenced Dr. Li and many others for attempting to speak the truth about the coronavirus outbreak and China’s involvement. Meanwhile, they stood by as the virus spread around the world – resulting in loss of life and loss of livelihood for millions. These actions by foreign governments to suppress those who provide pertinent information about public health crises are unacceptable, and they must be held accountable to the fullest extent,” said Blackburn.

“The Chinese government’s efforts to suppress information about the coronavirus ultimately led to this pandemic,” said Lankford. “The Chinese Communist Party detained and arrested doctors who raised concerns instead of sharing information with the world and working collaboratively to contain the disease. We must hold foreign governments accountable, including China, for attempting to suppress information about public health emergencies, especially if that information can help prevent the loss of American lives.”

Background:

  • Senator Cotton first introduced the Li Wenliang Global Public Health Accountability Act in May of 2020. 
  • The Li Wenliang Global Public Health Accountability Act is sanctions legislation modeled after the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.
  • It would authorize the president to sanction foreign officials who suppress or distort information about international public health crises, including the coronavirus. 
  • These sanctions include inadmissibility to the United States, revocation of existing U.S. visas, and the blocking of all property within the United States. 
  • This legislation would provide Congress with the authority to request that the president review specific foreign officials for sanctions eligibility. Within 120 days of receiving such a request, the president must report to Congress on whether he/she intends to impose sanctions.
  • Last year, Senator Cotton introduced a resolution honoring Dr. Li’s bravery and sacrifice. The resolution passed on March 3, 2020.

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