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US Senators Introduce Bill to Sanction China Officials Obstructing COVID-19 Origins Probe

© AP Photo / Ng Han GuanA Chinese woman adjusts the Chinese national flag near U.S. national flags before a Strategic Dialogue expanded meeting that's part of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, Thursday, July 10, 2014
A Chinese woman adjusts the Chinese national flag near U.S. national flags before a Strategic Dialogue expanded meeting that's part of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, Thursday, July 10, 2014 - Sputnik International, 1920, 12.01.2022
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WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Republican Senators Chuck Grassley and Marco Rubio introduced legislation that would sanction Chinese officials and organizations that play a role in preventing an independent investigation in China into the origins of the novel coronavirus.
"Today, Sen. Chuck Grassley joined Sen. Marco Rubio and several of his colleagues in introducing the Coronavirus Origin Validation, Investigation, and Determination (COVID) Act of 2022," Grassley's press office said in a news release on Tuesday.
"The bill would authorize sanctions, if 90 days after enactment, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) still refuses to allow a credible and comprehensive international investigation into the origins of COVID-19."
Grassley said in the release that an investigation is necessary to reveal whether the Chinese government is responsible for releasing the virus and covering it up.
The legislation would specifically target the leadership of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and its affiliated institutes and laboratories, including the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
In addition, the bill would also suspend federal research funding across all academic fields for studies that involve CAS and prohibit gain-of-function virus research cooperation for any individual or institution based in the United States that receives federal funding.
On October 29, US intelligence released a declassified report on its investigation into the origins of the novel coronavirus, which found that the virus had not been developed as a biological weapon. However, the report also mentioned that that Beijing continued to hinder the global investigation, resisted sharing information and blamed other countries, including the United States.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said that China had made clear its firm opposition when the US intelligence agency released the unclassified summary of assessment on the novel coronavirus origins in August. The Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that the report was a political and false one, with no scientific basis or credibility.
In spring 2021, the World Health Organization issued a full report on the coronavirus origin, stating that the leak from laboratory is unlikely.
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