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US Senators Introduce Sanctions Bill to Hold China Accountable for COVID-19 Outbreak

© REUTERS / TOM BRENNERUS Capitol Building in Washington
US Capitol Building  in Washington - Sputnik International
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Legislation has been introduced in Congress authorizing President Donald Trump to impose sanctions on China if Beijing fails to cooperate and provide a full accounting of the events leading up to the COVID-19 outbreak, nine Senators said in a statement.

"Without certification, the president would be authorized to impose a range of sanctions such as asset freezes, travel bans, visa revocations, restricting United States financial institutions from making loans or underwriting to Chinese businesses and prohibiting Chinese firms from being listed on American stock exchanges", Senators Lindsey Graham, Thom Tillis, Cindy Hyde-Smith, Mike Braun, Rick Scott, Steve Daines, Todd Young, Jim Inhofe, and Roger Wicker said on Tuesday.

The senators added that the measure requires the US president to provide a certification to Congress within 60 days that China has shared a full and complete accounting to any COVID-19-related investigation led by the United States, its allies, or UN agencies, including the World Health Organization.

The White House should also notify US lawmakers if China "closed operating wet markets that may expose risk to humans and released all Hong Kong pro-democracy advocates that were arrested in the post-COVID-19 crackdowns", the statement said.

Senator Graham called for pushing back against China’s narrative regarding COVID-19 and holding it accountable.

"We must determine how the virus came about and take steps, like closing the wet markets, to ensure it never happens again", Graham added.

Some members of the Trump administration, including the president himself, and several US media outlets have consistently put the blame on China amid the coronavirus pandemic, slamming the country for what they consider to be its poor performance during the crisis, while also accusing the country of data concealment and even creating the virus. China has repeatedly denounced the accusations, urging US politicians not to politicize the deadly pandemic.

As of Tuesday, the World Health Organization has registered near 4.1 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 283,000 coronavirus-related deaths all over the world since the start of the outbreak.

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