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13 May, 2020 11:47

Beijing denounces ‘immoral’ US Senate bill threatening China with sanctions over Covid-19

Beijing denounces ‘immoral’ US Senate bill threatening China with sanctions over Covid-19

Beijing has lashed out at US legislation which seeks to impose sanctions on China if it fails to cooperate with Washington's investigation into the coronavirus pandemic.

The COVID-19 Accountability Act, introduced by US Senator Lindsey Graham and co-sponsored by eight other Republican senators, is “immoral” and plays loose with the facts, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said on Wednesday.

The bill would require the president to notify Congress within 60 days that China had “provided a full and complete accounting” to any US-led probe into the coronavirus outbreak. The rule would also apply to investigations carried out by American allies and UN agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO).

The legislation also demands that China shutter all “wet markets” which can pose a risk to human health. It also calls for the immediate release of Hong Kong activists arrested during ongoing protests in the semi-autonomous territory.

If China fails to meet these criteria, the bill would authorize the president to implement far-reaching sanctions. Travel bans, asset freezes and other economic restrictions could be put in place.Zhao said that the proposed legislation was not based on facts or international agreements.

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“China has some live poultry markets, farmers' markets, or seafood markets, which are not banned by international law," he noted.

Washington continues to accuse Beijing of playing a nefarious role in the ongoing global health crisis. China has demanded evidence for such incendiary accusations, arguing that the Trump administration is simply trying to deflect attention away from its poor handling of the pandemic.

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