Trump State Department official calls for sanctions against Wuhan lab

Virus Outbreak China WHO Mission
Security personnel gather near the entrance to the Wuhan Institute of Virology during a visit by the World Health Organization team in Wuhan in China’s Hubei province on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. Ng Han Guan/AP

Trump State Department official calls for sanctions against Wuhan lab

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A former Trump State Department official called for sanctioning the Wuhan Institute of Virology during a congressional on the Biden administration’s sanctions policy toward China.

Dr. David Asher, a proliferation expert who helped lead the State Department’s 2020 investigation into the origins of COVID-19, said the Wuhan lab should be hit with United States sanctions over its alleged role in leaking SARS-CoV-2 and over China’s role in covering up the pandemic as the virus spread. He made the remarks during a GOP-led House Foreign Affairs Committee subcommittee hearing on Wednesday which examined U.S. sanctions policy.

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The hearing’s experts also discussed potential sanctions against China over its support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as well as the need to combat China’s role in partnering with Mexican cartels in fentanyl trafficking, in addition to the spotlight on the Wuhan lab.

“Let’s face it: we haven’t even imposed sanctions against China over its likely willful creation and certain undercover export of COVID-19,” Asher, now a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, testified on Wednesday. “We concluded … that it was the result of a massive lab accident combined with an even more massive cover-up. At this stage, can we at least sanction the infamous Wuhan Institute of Virology, its parent organization, its partners in the Chinese military, corporate subsidiaries, and key personnel?”

FBI Director Christopher Wray confirmed last month that the FBI has long believed COVID-19 originated at a Chinese government lab, and it was recently revealed the Energy Department now believes with “low confidence” that the coronavirus started at a Wuhan lab.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released an assessment in August 2021 stating that one U.S. intelligence agency, the FBI, assessed with “moderate confidence” that COVID-19 most likely emerged from the Wuhan lab, while four U.S. spy agencies and the National Intelligence Council believed with just “low confidence” that COVID-19 most likely had a natural origin.

Asher said that “we need to hold the Chinese accountable” for the deaths of millions of people worldwide from COVID-19. He argued: “They absolutely bear responsibility for the spread of this. I’m fully convinced they created it. I don’t think they deliberately leaked it. But they are continuing to pursue weapons of mass destruction research in their biology programs.” Asher said the goal of sanctions would be to impose costs and deter this from happening again.

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“They should be cut off from their ability to transact with the United States or receive U.S. funding forever,” Asher said, contending that sanctions “would absolutely set back the biological dual-use research areas of concern” at the Wuhan lab and “would also stop U.S. taxpayer money from going there.”

Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under former President Donald Trump, testified this month that it was likely that U.S. taxpayer dollars from the National Institutes of Health and elsewhere funded Chinese gain-of-function research which contributed to the origination of SARS-CoV-2.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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