Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, on Tuesday called for China to shutter its “gross” wet markets, threatening to leverage U.S. trade unless the communist government moves to prevent the spread of deadly viruses originating in such venues.
“What can China do to help the world? Shut those markets down,” Mr. Graham said on “Fox & Friends.”
Mr. Graham said he planned to write letters to the World Health Organization and the Chinese ambassador demanding action after the [U.K.] Daily Mail reported Saturday that the markets were “still selling bats and slaughtering rabbits on blood-soaked floors as Beijing celebrates its ‘victory’ over coronavirus.”
“I’m going to write a letter to the World Health Organization and to the Chinese ambassador asking them to close the Chinese wet markets,” Mr. Graham. “These are open-air markets where they sell monkey, they sell bat. We think this whole thing started from the transmission from a bat to a human.”
Mr. Graham referred to the novel coronavirus, which is believed to have originated at a wildlife market in Wuhan, China.
Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market located near the Wuhan Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “the national center for China’s bat-virus research,” as reported Monday by Bill Gertz of the Washington Times.
“I don’t think this came from a Chinese military lab, but these wet markets are gross, they’re just absolutely disgusting, selling exotic animals that transmit viruses from animals to human beings,” Mr. Graham said. “Those things need to shut down.”
Will the Chinese listen?
“I’m going to write a letter to the Chinese ambassador saying if you don’t shut those wet markets down, our trading relationship is going to change,” said Mr. Graham, who heads the Senate Judiciary Committee.
He said that previous viruses have also originated in China through the wet markets, “where you intermingle all kinds of exotic animals — it’s just really a gross display of how you prepare food.”
China closed the Wuhan market in January and banned the buying, selling and transportation of wild animals last month in response to COVID-19, which has so far sickened more than 800,000 people and resulted in 39,000 deaths worldwide.