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senate Bill S. 3600

Should Chinese Communist Party Officials Who Concealed or Distorted Information About the Coronavirus Pandemic Face Sanctions?

Argument in favor

The Chinese Communist Party officials who suppressed information about the emergence of COVID-19 before it turned into a global pandemic should face financial sanctions & be barred from entering the U.S. This bill would make that happen and serve as a warning about the importance of sharing vital information during public health crises.

Argument opposed

While it’s true that the Chinese Communist Party wasn’t transparent during the early days of the pandemic, imposing sanctions on CCP officials will only lead to a further deterioration of relations between the U.S. and China when there is already considerable strain because of the trade war, China’s South China Sea expansionism, and North Korea’s nuclear program.

What is Senate Bill S. 3600?

This bill — the Li Wenliang Global Public Health Accountability Act — would authorize the president to impose property- and visa-blocking sanctions on foreign individuals and entities involved in deliberate acts to conceal or distort information about a public health emergency of international concern, including the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Specifically, it would freeze the financial & property assets of sanctioned entities & individuals, in addition to barring sanctioned individuals from entering the U.S. The bill is named after Dr. Li Wenliang, who was a doctor in a hospital located in Wuhan, China that spread word among doctors about the spread of COVID-19, and was publicly admonished by local police with the endorsement of the Chinese Communist Party for his “rumor mongering”. Li later contracted COVID-19 and died of the illness.

The president would be authorized to impose sanctions on:

  • A government official (or a senior associate of such an official) who is responsible for or complicit in deliberate acts to conceal or distort information about an international public health emergency, or who benefits financially from such acts.

  • A foreign person or entity that has materially assisted or supported such acts.

This legislation would be modeled after the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, which allowed the imposition of sanctions on individuals & entities involved with the perpetration of human rights violations.

Impact

Foreign officials & entities who conceal or distort information about a global public health emergency; U.S. agencies responsible for implementing sanctions; and the president.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 3600

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthSen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) introduced this legislation to sanction foreign officials who suppress or distort information about international public health crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic which originated in Wuhan, China:

“Dr. Li tried to warn his country and the world about the Wuhan coronavirus, but he 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. In honor of Dr. Li, our bill seeks to punish foreign officials responsible for suppressing information about international health crises, including the Wuhan virus.”

The lead sponsor of this bill’s House companion, Rep. John Curtis (R-UT), added:

“As Dr. Li Wenliang said, ‘A Healthy Society Shouldn’t Only Have One Voice.’ By suppressing critical public health information, officials in China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, and elsewhere have demonstrated that they care more about maintaining their grip on power than the health and wellbeing of their people. The Li Wenliang Global Public Health Accountability Act — named after the heroic Chinese doctor whistleblower — will ensure that dictators and their cronies think twice before once allowing a local health crisis to spiral out of control into a pandemic that endangers the globe.”

This legislation has the support of four Republican cosponsors. The House companion bill has the support of eight Republican cosponsors.


Of NoteThe Chinese government has faced criticism for failing to share information about the coronavirus (COVID-19) and suppressing doctors who attempted to disclose that information. Here’s a look at a timeline, compiled in part by Axios, of the Chinese Communist Party’s actions after the start of the outbreak:


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: Doug Fang - Voice of America / Public Domain)

AKA

Li Wenliang Global Public Health Accountability Act of 2020

Official Title

A bill to authorize the imposition of sanctions with respect to the deliberate concealment or distortion of information about public health emergencies of international concern, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
    IntroducedMay 5th, 2020

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