Congress is considering a bill that would posthumously award a Congressional Gold Medal to Dr. Li Wenliang for his lifesaving efforts to draw attention to COVID-19 and advocate for government transparency in China.
H.R. 6471, introduced by Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), would recognize Wenliang’s contributions in reducing the spread of COVID-19 in the early stages of the pandemic.
Wenliang was the Wuhan doctor who first sounded the alarm about the virus and continued to spread the word about the potential impact of the disease, despite censorship by the Chinese government. For his efforts to share information about COVID-19, Wenliang was detained by the communist Chinese government, interrogated, and forced to sign a document “confessing” he had spread illegal rumors.
Although he knew the risks associated with COVID-19, Wenliang continued to treat patients. Tragically, while working on the front lines to help save lives, Wenliang contracted the virus and succumbed to it shortly thereafter.
Criticized Government Cover-Up
In a statement made to The New York Times shortly before his death, Wenliang said honesty by the Chinese Communist government could have saved many more lives.
“If the officials had disclosed information about the epidemic earlier, I think it would have been a lot better,” Wenliang stated. “There should be more openness and transparency.”
In addition to recognizing the doctor’s bravery and hard work, awarding Wenliang with the Congressional Gold Medal would shine a light on the censorship in communist China that amplified the COVID-19 crisis, Roy said in an April 9 press release.
“I am proud to author legislation to honor Dr. Wenliang—a truly courageous doctor who saved countless lives by telling the world about the dangers of coronavirus,” Roy stated. “Awarding Congress’s highest civilian award to Dr. Li would not only honor his brave action to warn others about the spread of COVID-19 but also call global attention to China’s lack of transparency and censorship of speech.”