Members of the House of Representatives presented a resolution on Tuesday that would condemn China for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Legislation, led by representatives from Jim Banks, R-Ind., And Seth Moulton, D-Mass., Accuses the Chinese government of having made several “serious mistakes”, including the deliberate maintenance of misinformation to minimize virus risk, and the censorship of doctors and journalists in the early days of the outbreak.
These measures, the resolution says, “increased” the severity and spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. The measure requires the Chinese government to “publicly declare that there is no evidence that COVID-19 originated anywhere other than China”.
However, the resolution has triggered criticism from many legislators who have argued that it could endanger Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders by maintaining the virus’ racist association with the Chinese people. There has been an increase in coronavirus-related attacks in the community, which correlated with the spread of the disease.
“During such a pandemic, people are fearful and angry, and if we turn this anger on China, AAPIs are at risk, as we have seen in the insults and assaults against them,” said Judy Chu, D-Calif Der chairwoman Asian-Pacific Congress caucus said NBC News in a statement.
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Chu contacted Banks and Moulton on Tuesday to ask them to drop or change the bill. Both said no, she said.
Moulton, who announced on Wednesday that he would quarantine himself after some symptoms, said he understood “why people are angry about racism and the story behind it. That is true.” However, he said: “It is important to point out what authoritarian regimes are doing so that we can be held accountable if our own president uses the same game book.”
“The president wins if we cannot have an open discussion about China,” he said. “We must be able to proclaim his xenophobia and, at the same time, China’s attacks on journalists and our troops.”
Banks sent a similar message saying, “Of course, no one should make the mistake of believing that members of the Asian American community or Chinese citizens are responsible for, or associated with, the lies of the Chinese government. Anyone who makes this distinction can’t do it would be guilty of discrimination. “
Public health officials, including the World Health Organization, have warned against associating the disease with a location or ethnicity. In 2015, the WHO revised its own naming conventions to avoid the unintended consequences of stigmatizing certain communities or industries.
Since the onset of the outbreak, Asian Americans have been exposed to attacks and violence related to the virus. People across the country have been hospitalized for virus-borne racism, including a 23-year-old woman in New York City who was allegedly slapped on the face when her attackers alleged anti-Asian insults. In California, an Asian teenager was brought to the emergency room after being bullied and attacked.
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The resolution also calls on the Chinese government to denounce the conspiracy theory of the State Department spokesman, Zhao Lijian, that the US Army has brought the epidemic to Wuhan, the center of the outbreak. It also calls for the end of detention of Uyghur Muslims in prison camps, which the government claims are professional centers, and the repeal of China’s decision to exclude some American journalists.
Both the US government and the Chinese government have blamed it back and forth. US officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Donald Trump himself, have increased the use of the terms “Chinese virus” and “Wuhan virus” and classified the outbreak as a Chinese problem. Pompeo called on the G7 leaders accept the languageEven after a report by the German magazine Der Spiegel. They also accused Beijing of withholding information.
Similarly, Chinese officials have regularly criticized the United States’ handling of the virus, exposed America’s failure-related failure, expelled American journalists, and maintained the army conspiracy.
“I think a lot of people thought when the pandemic started that this was an opportunity for global collaboration,” Matthew Kroenig, who teaches at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, told CNN. “What we saw instead is that it has just become a new arena for this great power rivalry.”