Republicans call for action against China over low-confience 'lab leak' assessment

Republican senator Tom Cotton.

Republicans have called on Washington to take swift action against China after the Energy Department assessed with “low confidence” that the COVID-19 pandemic "likely" originated from a laboratory leak in Wuhan.

The department made the conclusion based on new intelligence that an accidental laboratory leak in China’s Wuhan most likely caused the coronavirus pandemic to spread in December 2019.

The new report adds to the confusion about the origin of the virus.

Although US spy agencies remain divided over the origins of the virus, Republcian lawmakers called for urgent action against China for what they described as Beijing’s refusal to cooperate with global probes into the virus origin.

Senator Tom Cotton, who has long alleged that COVID-19 was linked to a lab studying coronaviruses in Wuhan, tweeted on Sunday, “Re. China’s lab leak, being proven right doesn’t matter. What matters is holding the Chinese Communist Party accountable so this doesn’t happen again.”

Senator Josh Hawley said on Sunday that he will re-introduce legislation demanding more information on what the US government has learned about the COVID outbreak.

“The American people deserve the full truth about #covid origins. No more whitewash,” he tweeted.

He introduced legislation in 2021 to require the Democratic administration of President Joe Biden to release intelligence regarding the lab in Wuhan.

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a Republican, also called for Beijing to be held accountable for the alleged lab leak.

“There was always enormous evidence that the Wuhan coronavirus leaked from the Wuhan lab. I’m glad the Department of Energy recognizes this reality. It’s past time to make the CCP pay,” he said in a tweet.

Back in May 2020, Pompoe backed Donald Trump’s claims that the coronavirus originated in a research laboratory in Wuhan, where the outbreak first emerged.

Senator Rick Scott also echoed his fellow Republican’s call in a tweet on Sunday, accusing the government of Chinese President Xi Jinping of being an “evil regime” who must be held accountable.

“The left spent the past 2yrs trying to censor the truth & cover up for Communist China, but the facts are undeniable,” he wrote.

Scott went on to say that the virus “killed millions & Xi will stop at nothing to destroy the US. It’s time to hold this evil regime accountable.”

Pointing to the new assessment, Senator Dan Sullivan also accused Beijing of “lying to the world,” saying, “I think that we need to make sure every country knows that, and then look at what the consequences could be.”

The Wall Street Journal first reported on the assessment from the Department of Energy on Sunday.

The report, extending to five pages, was prepared for the White House and members of Congress, the Journal said.

The conclusion was a change from the department’s earlier position that it was undecided on how the virus emerged.

While the department shared the information with other agencies, none of them changed their conclusions.

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said there were still a “variety of views” on the issue.

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