Mast works to hold China accountable for COVID-19 cover-up, trade abuse

U.S. Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) on June 30 offered amendments during a U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee markup of legislation that aims to revitalize and reassert United States leadership, investment, and engagement in the Indo-Pacific region and globally.

Rep. Mast offered amendments to the Ensuring American Global Leadership and Engagement Act, H.R. 3524, also known as the EAGLE Act, which was sponsored on May 25 by U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The amendments are designed to hold the People’s Republic of China accountable on the global stage and to ensure that the United States can counter its influence, according to Rep. Mast.  

“Obstruction of investigations on coronavirus, theft of intellectual property, blatant human rights abuses — the list of China’s offenses goes on and on,” Rep. Mast said. “But the bottom line is this: China is the greatest security threat, not just to the U.S., but to democracy, independence, and the world as we know it. It is up to us to stop them, but this bill will not cut it.” 

Specifically, Rep. Mast’s amendments would declassify intelligence gathered by the U.S. related to the origins of the coronavirus, including information about the Wuhan Institute of Virology, activities conducted by the Chinese military at the Institute, coronavirus research and related activities at the Institute, and details surrounding the illness of several researchers in the fall of 2019, according to a summary provided by his staff.

Additionally, the U.S. Secretary of State and the United States Trade Representative would be directed to develop a strategy to prevent China, and other nations, from falsely claiming “developing nation” status, thus giving the nation preferential treatment in trade agreements intended to benefit truly developing nations, according to the summary.

And the National Institutes of Health would be prohibited under the amendments from providing grants or other financial resources to any individual or entity to conduct research in China, Russia, Iran, or North Korea, the summary says. 

The Foreign Affairs Committee went into recess until the week of July 12, during which they will hold votes on Mast’s amendments and complete their markup of H.R. 3524.

H.R. 3524 is also under consideration in the U.S. House Financial Services; Ways and Means; Judiciary; and Intelligence (Permanent Select) committees.