Senator Cotton: ‘No Question’ That China Pressured W.H.O. In December To ‘Undersell The Risk Of This Virus’

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) told Fox News’s Maria Bartiromo on Sunday that there was no doubt that Chinese dictator Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) pressured the World Health Organization (WHO) to downplay the coronavirus outbreak that originated in Wuhan, China.

“There’s no question Xi Jinping and senior officials in the Chinese Communist Party were pressuring the WHO all the way back to December to undersell the risk of this virus,” Cotton said. “They knew in China, early on, probably as early as the early days of December, that this virus was both highly contagious among humans and it was very deadly for certain people.”

“They wanted to make sure – they wanted to make sure that this – in addition to saving face, that, once they realized this virus was going to cripple their own economy, that it did not remain limited to China,” Cotton continued. “So, the WHO has some real answers to provide the world about why they bowed to Chinese pressure throughout December and January and turned what could have been a local health emergency in Wuhan into a global pandemic.”

WATCH:

TRANSCRIPT PROVIDED VIA FOX NEWS:

MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: We have new developments this morning on the Chinese lab at the center of the coronavirus pandemic.

A new analysis of cell phone data points to a shutdown at that Wuhan facility for a week last October, two months before the virus reportedly first escaped from the lab.

My next guest was the first U.S. lawmaker to sound the alarm on the Communist Party’s handling of the outbreak.

Republican Senator Tom Cotton is with me. He’s a member of the Intelligence, Armed Services, and Banking committees.

And, Senator, it is an honor once again to have you on the program. Thanks so much for joining us.

SEN. TOM COTTON (R-AR): Thanks, Maria. Thank you.

BARTIROMO: We want to break news, so that our audience understands clearly what has taken place here. This is very important.

There is cell phone data that we have seen now that indicates that there was a shutdown of the Wuhan virology lab, the origin, likely origin of the coronavirus. Explain the cell phone data and why it’s important.

COTTON: So, Maria, reports emerged yesterday in the media that publicly available cell phone data suggests that roads around the lab in Wuhan was closed in the middle of October.

Again, this information is publicly available. American media has used it to analyze mobility patterns in states to see if our people are practicing social distancing. So the reports indicate that on major roads around these labs, Wuhan, you obviously had thousands and thousands of cell phones pinging towers day in and day out.

And then, all of a sudden, it stopped. And it remained stopped for several days. That would suggest, without any further information, that those roads were blocked for some reason.

Now, we need to go confirm that. We need to look at the data carefully. We also need to try to use other means to verify if there were, in fact, shutdowns of roads around those labs in the middle of October. The Chinese Communist Party could obviously help us with that, if they would open up and allow us to investigate what happened in Wuhan.

But if it is confirmed that roads around that lab were shut down for a number of days in mid-October, it is highly coincidental that there was a major shutdown of those roads at about the time one might have expected this virus to first get transmitted to humans, whatever the origins may have been.

But this would be another piece of circumstantial evidence that there was some kind of accident or outbreak from those labs, not from the seafood market or anywhere else. That’s why it’s so important we get to the bottom of this data.

BARTIROMO: So, why would they shut down all activity around the Wuhan lab?

And, also, how weird is it that all activity would be shut down? I mean, analyze it in terms of comparing it to something else in America, so we can understand better. There’s always a lot of activity around that lab, right?

COTTON: There is.

So, remember, Wuhan is a city that is larger than New York City. So, obviously, its roads are highly trafficked and heavily congested. So to shutdown roads around the lab would suggest that they had some good reason to disrupt traffic patterns so severely.

So, again, first, we need to verify these reports, the cell phone data say what these media reports indicate, and then we need to use other sources to try to confirm what they suggest, which is, those roads were shut down.

And if that’s the case, if roads were shut down around these laboratories for several days in mid-October, then we need to figure out exactly why, because it’s simply another piece of circumstantial evidence that would support the idea that this virus originated from one of those labs.

BARTIROMO: Now, Senator, there is a conversation which is being written about in Der Spiegel, the German newspaper, which is also reported in The New York Post today.

The report is published this weekend. It says that Xi Jinping urged the World Health Organization chief to — quote — “delay a global warning” about the pandemic and hold back information on human-to-human transmission of the virus.

We know that the WHO, the World Health Organization, came out with a tweet on January 14 and said no human-to-human transmission of this virus, which was absolutely 100 percent wrong.

But now we’re getting news that, in fact, Xi Jinping himself talked to the head of the WHO to tell him, don’t go public with this.

COTTON: So, Maria, I don’t know about all of the specific details about those reports.

But there’s no question Xi Jinping and senior officials in the Chinese Communist Party were pressuring the WHO all the way back to December to undersell the risk of this virus.

They knew in China, early on, probably as early as the early days of December, that this virus was both highly contagious among humans and it was very deadly for certain people.

BARTIROMO: Yes.

COTTON: Yet they wanted to save face.

BARTIROMO: But, by the way….

COTTON: They wanted…

BARTIROMO: Yes.

COTTON: They didn’t…

BARTIROMO: They wanted to save face, yes.

COTTON: They wanted to make sure — they wanted to make sure that this — in addition to saving face, that, once they realized this virus was going to cripple their own economy, that it did not remain limited to China.

So, the WHO has some real answers to provide the world about why they bowed to Chinese pressure throughout December and January and turned what could have been a local health emergency in Wuhan into a global pandemic.

BARTIROMO: Let me switch gears and ask you about your investigation into the Thousand Talents Program.

Tonight, on FOX News, we are running a special which is part of my three-year investigation into China. It will run tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern to discuss China’s behavior. And that’s why I want to talk about the Thousand Talents Program.

This has nothing to do with the coronavirus, but this is another way that the Chinese Communist Party has been able to spy on Americans and steal intellectual property.

Tell us what you’re doing with the Thousand Talents Program, and explain that program.

COTTON: So, Maria, the Thousand Talents Program sounds benign, even beneficial, but, in reality, it’s an espionage program.

The Chinese Communist Party is recruiting spies in United States. So, what they do is spun research, oftentimes at our most advanced laboratories or prestigious institutions of higher learning, to get technology, to get cutting-edge trade secrets back to China, and to train Chinese Communist Party-affiliated graduate and post-graduate students.

This just broke out a few months ago at Harvard, where the director, the chairman of the Department of Chemistry was arrested by the FBI and charged with lying about being part of the Thousand Talents Program.

What I think is the real scandal, though, is that participation in this talent program is legal. People who have been arrested for it tend to be arrested for things like lying to federal investigators, or wire fraud, or mail fraud, or what have you.

BARTIROMO: Yes.

COTTON: I’m going to propose legislation that would ban any researcher from accepting Chinese-affiliated funds…

BARTIROMO: That’s unbelievable.

COTTON: … if they are also working on federally funded programs and that would require universities to make their best efforts not to employ anyone who is a part of these talent programs.

BARTIROMO: So, that…

COTTON: We should not be — we should not be underwriting those people who are on the Chinese Communist Party’s payroll to…

BARTIROMO: Of course. Of course.

COTTON: … to send our most advanced cutting-edge technology back to China.

BARTIROMO: That professor was getting paid from Harvard. He was also getting paid from the CCP.

Real quick, before we go, I have got to get your take. You mentioned this the last time you were with us, that the Chinese Communist Party has sent engineers, research engineers, to some of our leading medical institutions.

Senator Cruz told me last week M.D. Anderson is having a major issue with this, because there are engineers trying to steal information to get China to get a cure for cancer before the United States.

Do you think they are in our medical institutions right now stealing science data to try to beat us to a COVID-19 vaccine? And, also, after they steal the data, are they then going ahead and filing for patents, their own Chinese patents, based on the information they got from America?

COTTON: Yes, Maria, China is using the exact techniques they have used in agriculture and semiconductor or computer chip technology to try to steal our most cutting-edge life science knowledge, to include coronavirus information, whether companies are working on therapeutic drugs or vaccines.

The Department of Homeland Security just issued a warning recently cautioning laboratories and companies and universities to keep their guard up for cyber-theft.

And, of course, like the Thousand Talents Programs, China runs talent programs to use human spies as well to try to steal that technology.

So, all of our institutions in the medical field, in the life sciences and pharmaceutical fields need to have their guard up against Chinese espionage.

BARTIROMO: And, by the way, in terms of the cell phone data that we know was completely stopped for that time in Wuhan in October, do we know if schools were closed, were businesses closed, in and around that area as well?

Can you glean that from the fact that there’s no cell phone activity as well, Senator?

COTTON: From the media reports, I don’t think you can, Maria.

But those are the kind of questions that you would want to ask to try to understand what was happening around those labs.

BARTIROMO: OK. I see. OK.

COTTON: It’s a very good point that, if you had schools closed or other businesses closed, that would again be an indicator of something happening, that the Chinese Communist Party wanted to kind of shut off activity around those labs.

BARTIROMO: Senator, thank you.

COTTON: Thank you.

BARTIROMO: Thank you, Senator Tom Cotton

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