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US Republican-led China task force report slammed for shifting responsibility

By LIA ZHU in San Francisco | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2020-10-03 11:50

A nurse wearing personal protective equipment watches an ambulance driving away outside of Elmhurst Hospital during the ongoing outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Queens borough of New York, US, April 20, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

A US House Republican-led task force unveiled an expansive report to crack down on China weeks before the presidential election, which critics denounced for shifting the public's focus away from the government's mishandling of the pandemic.

The task force — including 15 House Republicans and chaired by Representative Michael McCaul of Texas -- was formally launched in May amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The group on Wednesday unveiled a full report featuring hundreds of recommendations to address issues spanning national security, supply chain and the spread of the virus.

Some US politicians have made cracking down on China a central campaign theme by using the term "China virus" and targeting Chinese scientists and Chinese companies over so-called national security concerns.

In a Twitter post, Representative Andy Barr from Kentucky, a member of the task force, said the report provides "a blueprint" to combat China for "its human rights abuses" and "its role in enabling the spread of COVID-19".

But in the thread responding to Barr's tweet, people were apparently more focused on the US government's role.

"And who is going to prosecute Trump for his role in the spread of COVID-19?" asked a user named Bob in a tweet. Another user, under the name "Ghost of 1918", wrote: "33 days until the election. We have no national plan for Covid 19. DEAD AMERICANS that didn't have to be dead except for the utter failure of the Trump administration."

As the world's largest economy with the most advanced medical system, the US instead leads the world in COVID-19 cases and deaths. It has recorded more than 7 million cases and more than 205,000 deaths out of a global total of more than 33 million cases and 1 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

"Our pandemic is on its third and fourth wave. People are continuing to die. Why didn't the GOP commission set up a comprehensive task force to deal with these pressing domestic problems? Instead they direct their resources at a manufactured threat from China, a threat that does not exist," said Julie Tang, a retired superior court judge in San Francisco and co-founder of Pivot to Peace, an advocacy group dedicated to promote US-China peace.

On the issue of national security. Tang stressed the fact that China has not sent any of their aircraft carriers or planes into US territorial seas, and not even anywhere near the Pacific Ocean.

"The US has been sending aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines into the South China Sea and Taiwan straits and flying spy planes off Taiwan coast within the last two months, directly threatening a war in Asia," she added.

"China has not initiated any aggression upon us. We manufactured the trade war, the tech war to our own detriment," Tang continued. "China has not interfered in our domestic affairs. We are interfering with China's right of sovereignty over Taiwan."

Margaret Kimberley, a New York-based writer and activist for peace and justice, reminded the American public not to be used by the US administration's propaganda so as to fail to realize the domestic racial injustice.

The US continues a relentless propaganda campaign to give the appearance that China has 1 million people imprisoned in Xinjiang, while having more than 1 million black people in its own mass incarceration system, said Kimberley.

"We shouldn't be surprised that anti-China sentiment exists in the country while white supremacy is normalized. We cannot allow political parties to demonize other nations, and then express shock when racists here are emboldened," she said.

Tang was also worried that the task force recommendations suggest war. "There will be no peace if these right-wing political hawks continue to have their way," she said. "In moving us closer to war with China, our political leaders have forgotten their duties to the citizens of the US. They have turned their back on our poverty, our racial injustice and our broken healthcare system."

"We need a rational, common sense approach in our relationship with China - a rising economy and the largest consumer market in this world. There's much to be gained by maintaining a peaceful coexistence. War is not the answer," she said.

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