House Republican urges Pompeo to take steps to limit misinformation from China on coronavirus

House Republican urges Pompeo to take steps to limit misinformation from China on coronavirus
© Greg Nash

Rep. Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulHouse Republicans blame Chinese cover-up for coronavirus pandemic Engel subpoenas US global media chief Michael Pack Russia continues Navalny probe, wants to send additional investigators to Germany MORE (R-Texas) is urging Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: House Democrats unveil stopgap spending measure to GOP opposition | Bill includes .6B for new subs | Trump issues Iran sanctions after world shrugs at US action at UN Navalny calls on Russia to return clothes he was wearing when he fell ill US issues Iran sanctions to enforce UN action ignored by international community MORE to take steps to limit the spread of online Chinese misinformation around the coronavirus pandemic.

McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, sent a letter to Pompeo on Thursday requesting that Pompeo intensify efforts to counter disinformation around the coronavirus spread by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). 

“The CCP is carrying out a disinformation campaign in an attempt to transfer blame to the United States that is exacerbating this dire situation,” McCaul wrote. “The State Department has demonstrated considerable flexibility and ingenuity in responding to the CCP’s information warfare, and I urge you and your team to continue these efforts and to coordinate with willing allies.”

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The congressman asked that the State Department pursue an investigation into the “CCP’s coronavirus coverup,” including disinformation spread about where the virus originated, and that Pompeo brief Congress about the CCP’s disinformation efforts. 

“The CCP’s information warfare against the United States on coronavirus and other matters underscores the Department’s counter disinformation and public diplomacy efforts are more important than ever,” McCaul wrote. 

The letter to Pompeo was sent on the heels of a separate one McCaul sent to the CEOs of Google, Amazon, Twitter and Facebook earlier this week, in which he called on the social media platforms to ban all CCP media outlets and their officials from posting due to the disinformation they spread, as well as Beijing recently expelling American journalists in China. 

A spokesperson for McCaul told The Hill that the companies were working with him to address his concerns, with the spokesperson adding they hoped the companies would “do the right thing and take this propaganda down.”

Pompeo has called out China and other countries in recent weeks for spreading disinformation around the coronavirus pandemic.

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"There are coordinated efforts to disparage what America is doing and our activity to do all the things President TrumpDonald John TrumpBubba Wallace to be driver of Michael Jordan, Denny Hamlin NASCAR team Graham: GOP will confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee before the election Southwest Airlines, unions call for six-month extension of government aid MORE has set into motion," Pompeo said during a press briefing on the pandemic last week. 

“It is pretty diffused, unfortunately,” Pompeo added. “But we have certainly seen it come from places like China, and Russia and Iran.”

McCaul is not the first lawmaker to criticize China for its actions around the coronavirus crisis. 

Sen. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseChamber of Commerce endorses McSally for reelection Ben Sasse is mistaken with idea for the election of senators in America Big Ten football to return in October MORE (R-Neb.) and Rep. Mike GallagherMichael (Mike) John GallagherHillicon Valley: 'Fortnite' owner sues Apple after game is removed from App Store | Federal agencies seize, dismantle cryptocurrency campaigns of major terrorist organizations Lawmakers introduce bill designating billion to secure state and local IT systems Congress has a shot at correcting Trump's central mistake on cybersecurity MORE (R-Wis.) sent a joint letter to Twitter last week asking the platform to block CCP content. Twitter later told The Hill that “official government accounts engaging in conversation about the origins of the virus” would not be taken down.