Chinese State Media Outlets Target GOP Rep. following Critical Report on Beijing’s Handling of COVID

A number of Chinese state outlets have targeted Representative Michael McCaul (R., Texas) following his release of the China Task Force (CTF) report last month in a coordinated campaign the Texas Republican is calling targeted election interference.

Since the report’s release on September 30, McCaul’s work has been criticized in Chinese state-backed media on multiple occasions, the latest in a string of attacks since his work on the China Task Force and the House Foreign Affairs Committee began focusing on the Chinese Communist Party’s role in aiding the spread of COVID-19. McCaul previously told National Review that the China Task Force’s 82 findings and over 400 recommendations, two-thirds of which are bipartisan, represent an “awakening on the part of the American people.”

The Global Times — the English-language outlet run by the CCP’s People’s Daily — reported Wednesday that the China Task Force is “a small troupe without any legal status or authority” and is an effort by McCaul and Republicans who are “high-risk groups in the 2020 House election, and face the prospect of losing their seat.” On October 3, China Daily ran a news story, which was picked up by the English-language website of China News Service (CNS), that dismissed the CTF report for “shifting responsibility” away from the American government. Among the examples cited in the story were anonymous Twitter accounts that responded critically to Representative Andy Barr (R., Ky.) — who has called the CTF “some of the most consequential work” that he has participated in during his time in Congress.

Two op-eds on the English website of the China Global Television Network (CGTN) — one published on October 2 and another on October 5 — accused McCaul and the China Task Force of pushing “more prejudice and accusations on China” and implementing a “New Wave of McCarthyism,” respectively.

McCaul said in a statement that the criticism showed how “nefarious agents” are attempting “to undermine our election process and sow seeds of discord.”

“I think CCP leaders are worried that policies recommended in the China Task Force report could be enacted and drastically curtail their malign global agenda for the first time in 40 years,” McCaul told National Review. “So nearly two decades after prosecuting Johnny Chung for attempting to tilt U.S. elections toward Democrats on behalf of the Chinese government, I am now the target of the CCP’s latest efforts.”

The propaganda pieces are not the first by Chinese state-media to criticize McCaul. Earlier this year, McCaul’s interim report with Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the origins of the pandemic — which found that the CCP, aided by the WHO, covered up the early days of the outbreak in Wuhan — drew criticism from multiple outlets.

“US political elites can fool Americans, but not the world” the Global Times wrote. CGTN said the report was at fault for “cherry-picking evidence, jumping to conclusions, and factual inaccuracy.”

Even China’s foreign ministry spokesman chimed in. “By telling lies and spreading disinformation, certain US politicians aim to frame China and the WHO for their own political agenda. We urge them to respect facts and stop political maneuvering,” Zhao Lijian said on July 6 following a question on McCaul’s work.

McCaul is currently facing reelection in Texas’s 10th Congressional District, a race rated by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report as “Lean Republican.” McCaul’s campaign said that Democrat opponent Mike Siegel, who in 2014 described himself as a “red-diaper baby,” has failed to publicly condemn the Chinese Communist Party.

“Mike Siegel has been running for Congress for 3 years now and has dodged the issue altogether,” McCaul’s campaign spokesman Evan Albertson told National Review.

In March, the Democrat admitted that “the Chinese government’s response certainly exacerbated the crisis,” but accused McCaul and Republicans of “pushing hateful talking points” and “fanning the flames of racism and xenophobia” for criticizing China’s initial coverup of the outbreak in Wuhan.

Siegel’s campaign did not return a request for comment.

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