Four US senators on Tuesday introduced a resolution honoring Li Wenliang (李文亮) — a Chinese doctor who reported COVID-19 and tried to warn the Chinese Communist Party about its severity — and calling on Beijing to be transparent in responding to the epidemic and cease using its influence to exclude Taiwan from the WHO.
After raising concerns in December last year about the spread of COVID-19 to associates in China’s medical community, Li was forced by the Chinese government to retract his warnings and say that he had spread rumors, the resolution initiated by US senators Bob Menendez, Cory Gardner, Edward Markey and Tom Cotton said.
As the virus spread, the Chinese government for weeks downplayed the outbreak, with Li dying of the disease on Friday last week, the resolution said.
As of yesterday, there were more than 60,000 confirmed cases and more than 1,300 deaths globally.
The US Senate calls on China to “ensure that Chinese citizens and the international community have free and unfettered access, without censorship or social media controls, to information about 2019-nCoV,” the resolution said, using a previous name for the disease.
“Whereas the government of the People’s Republic of China has endangered the people of Taiwan and people around the world by using its influence to limit Taiwan’s access to the benefits of membership in the World Health Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization [ICAO], particularly during the current outbreak,” China should also cease efforts to stop Taiwan from participating in international organizations, it said.
“I stand with those in China now demanding freedom of speech, and I thank the Chinese doctors, nurses, medical professionals and all who are providing assistance on the front lines during this critical time,” Markey said in a news release.
“The Chinese government must cease its censorship, allow Taiwan the safety and security benefits of membership in international organizations, and cooperate internationally to mitigate this health crisis,” he said.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday thanked the senators for supporting Taiwan with concrete action.
The world is concerned about the continued spread of COVID-19, which has shown that diseases recognize no borders and underline the urgency to include Taiwan in the WHO, the ministry said.
The ministry reiterated its call for the WHO, the ICAO and other UN agencies to resist improper pressure from the Chinese government and seek ways to allow Taiwan’s participation.
Additional reporting by Lin Chia-nan
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