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McCaul says China must do more to control animal markets

McCaul says China must do more to control animal markets
© Stefani Reynolds

Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas), the top Republican on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, says China must do more with its markets to prevent the outbreak of diseases like the coronavirus. 

In a Monday letter to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization (WHO), McCaul argues that China should do more to prevent the sale and trade of exotic animals, which he said contributed to the coronavirus pandemic.

“While I welcomed the announcement last month that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has permanently banned the trade and consumption of non-aquatic wild animals, I share the concerns of many in the conservation community that this ban does not go far enough,” he wrote. 

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“The policy does not ban the trade of wild animals for fur, medicine, or research, and I believe that these loopholes may be exploited to illegally sell or trade these animals."

McCaul also criticized China for promoting traditional Chinese medicines to respond to the coronavirus, an action which could further the trafficking of wildlife. 

The Texas Republican said experts have suspected coronavirus and previous outbreaks like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) can be linked back to wet markets. While markets like China's exist in other countries, he said the wildlife sold at the markets in China are particularly problematic. 

“While the animal host that facilitated the transfer of COVID-19 from bats to humans has not yet been identified, pangolins, which are traded in this market, are suspected. The wet market in Wuhan, as well as others throughout China, bring an array of animals and humans in close contact with each other, and facilitated the spread of the disease to humans,” he wrote. 

McCaul also criticized Chinese officials for “attempting to obfuscate” the origins of the virus and called on the World Health Organization to reprimand those responsible for the lack of cooperation in providing necessary information to prevent future pandemics.