China Is Part of the 'New Axis of Evil,' Must Be Held Accountable for Pandemic, Senator Blackburn Says

China is part of the "new axis of evil" and must be held to account for the global coronavirus pandemic and the devastating economic consequences of containing it, Senator Marsha Blackburn said.

Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican, is pushing legislation that would allow US citizens to sue the Chinese government over the pandemic, which began in Wuhan, China and incentives to lure American companies to bring manufacturing back to the United States.

"China has to be held accountable for [coronavirus]," Blackburn said. "They are not our friend. When you talk about the new axis of evil—China, North Korea, Iran, Russia—these are people who are not our friend. And you have seen that China feels like they can exploit the rest of the world."

China's critics in Congress have been ratcheting up their rhetoric over the pandemic citing evidence the Chinese suppressed information about the virus, increasing the risk to the world. Blackburn's reference to the "Axis of Evil," first used by President George W. Bush before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, is the latest salvo in a war of words with China, which has falsely accused the U.S. military of spreading the virus.

Blackburn made the comments on an upcoming episode of the political podcast The Charlie Kirk Show, coming out Sunday at midnight. Kirk, a Newsweek contributor, is founder and president of the conservative group Turning Point USA.

marsha blackburn
Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn called China part of the "new axis of evil" on an episode of "The Charlie Kirk Show" expected to be released Sunday at midnight. Sarah Silbiger/Getty

Blackburn laid the blame for the coronavirus pandemic, which has taken the lives of over 154,000 individuals worldwide as of April 17, directly at China's feet.

"We know they caused the COVID virus," Blackburn said. "They did this by hiding information, by lying about what was happening. They were not transparent. They would not give us the viral sample to work from."

"This all started in Wuhan, China," Blackburn added. "It most likely started in one of their labs. And China now is again trying to say, 'Oh, it was not us,' when there has been concern about those labs expressed going back to 2014."

Blackburn said China needs to waive any money the U.S. owes because of the expenses the country has incurred in fighting the coronavirus. "We don't need to be sending them one thin dime because of the trillions of dollars they have cost our economy," Blackburn said.

China is the biggest foreign creditor of the United States. Recent data shows the U.S. in debt to China by $1.08 trillion.

Governments around the world have imposed crippling economic restrictions to contain the pandemic, triggering the deepest economic slump in decades.

China's economy was down 6.8 percent in the first quarter of 2020, the biggest decline in the country's economy since 1979. In a report released Tuesday, the International Monetary Fund said the global economy was "projected to contract sharply by -3 percent in 2020, much worse than during the 2008-09 financial crisis."

Blackburn spoke about a piece of legislation she co-authored with Republican Arizona Senator Martha McSally called the COVID Act.

"That will allow U.S. citizens who have suffered or died from COVID-19 or lost their business from COVID-19 to have that right of action in U.S. courts and to sue the Chinese Communist Party," Blackburn said.

Blackburn told Kirk that the Chinese Embassy requested a meeting with her in order to "call me out and tell me where I am wrong. And the news is they're not going to get a meeting. I am not wrong. I am right. And I am going to stay on this so that they can be held accountable for what they've done."

Newsweek reached out to the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the United States for comment.