House Oversight GOP calls on Democrats to investigate Chinese influence over WHO

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Washington, April 30, 2020 | comments
By: Jerry Dunleavy, For Washington Examiner -- The Republican members of the House Oversight Committee urged the Democratic-led committee to investigate the Chinese Communist Party’s influence over the World Health Organization.

The three-page letter, sent to Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney of New York on Thursday by GOP Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and the Republican Party’s ranking members on five oversight subcommittees, called on Democratic leadership to provide briefings and hold hearings in May on WHO’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. This comes amid a battle between Republicans and Democrats over President Trump’s decision to pause federal funding to the WHO, which the president called "China-centric."

“The potential misuse of taxpayer dollars is at the heart of the Committee’s jurisdiction, and we owe it to the American people to evaluate how the WHO has been spending their hard-earned money. The American taxpayer is the single largest contributor to the WHO, providing approximately $900 million every two years — ten times greater than China’s contribution,” the Republican letter obtained by the Washington Examiner said. “Notwithstanding this drastic imbalance in funding, the United States should not support organizations that promulgate communist propaganda instead of the facts. Our republic is not obligated to hand money to an entity that espouses ideals of international cooperation while furthering the Chinese government’s machinations.”

The GOP letter is a response to Maloney’s condemnation of the Trump administration’s stance toward the WHO earlier this month, when she said that “while we may agree that the WHO has shortcomings that must be corrected, your attack on the global health organization can easily be seen as a deliberate but transparent effort to deflect responsibility for your own failures onto others.” She also said that “while the WHO may have made mistakes in its response to this crisis, it was certainly not alone, and it defies logic to withhold support from the WHO at this pivotal moment — at the height of a global pandemic.”

Republicans referenced Maloney’s statement in their letter.

“Given the acknowledgment in your accompanying press release — ‘the WHO has shortcomings that must be corrected’ — the President’s decision was both reasonable and legitimate. In light of such an admission, coupled with multiple media reports of WHO’s failures, we request immediate briefings, and hearings next month, on the WHO’s relationship with the Community Party of China and its widely criticized response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis," they wrote.

Among the WHO failings listed in the GOP letter were the organization parroting Chinese disinformation about the coronavirus (including denying human-to-human transmission in mid-January), criticizing travel bans (which U.S. health experts such as Dr. Anthony Fauci have credited with helping slow the spread of the virus), delaying the naming of COVID-19 as a "public health emergency of international concern," and praising China as a global leader in the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has been especially effusive in his praise of China since the outbreak began.

“The WHO’s inaction and delay undoubtedly cost American lives,” the Republicans said. “For these reasons, we commend the president’s decision to temporarily pause the WHO’s funding.”

Some of the GOP's ranking subcommittee members explained their reasoning directly to the Washington Examiner.

Rep. Chip Roy of Texas said the WHO “deserves a thorough congressional investigation for its mishandling of the coronavirus response and for accepting and promulgating communist Chinese propaganda.” Rep. Glenn Grothman of Wisconsin said, “We need answers as to why the WHO is complacent toward harmful Chinese practices and taking part in spreading CCP propaganda.”

“When it comes to oversight, where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire,” said Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia, who added that “serious flags have been raised regarding potential misconduct, incompetence, and bias at the World Health Organization, particularly with the institution’s relationship with communist China.”

Rep. James Comer of Kentucky said, “It would be an utter failure of this committee to not investigate the WHO’s failures to address the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on the American people.”

There is well-documented evidence that China tried to cover up the spread of the coronavirus, muzzled whistleblowers, intimidated doctors, misled the World Health Organization, and blocked outside health experts. At least one study indicated that if the Chinese government had acted more quickly, the coronavirus’s global spread would have been greatly reduced.

The U.S. intelligence community reportedly believes the Chinese Communist Party downplayed the severity of the initial coronavirus outbreak and continues to mislead about the infection rate and death toll inside China. Beijing has denied orchestrating a cover-up of its coronavirus response.

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