US senators propose renaming street in front of Chinese embassy after Wuhan whistleblower doctor

Whistleblower Dr Li Wenliang (inset) at a memorial service for him in California. Image: Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images

DHARAMSALA, 8 May: A group of lawmakers in the US has proposed to rename the street in front of the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C., after the Wuhan-based whistleblower doctor who warned about the coronavirus outbreak.

The motion, proposed by Republican Senators led by Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) would rechristen the section of the Washington street in front of the embassy “Li Wenliang Plaza”, instead of the innocuous current name of International Place, the Guardian reported.

Cheney has said in a statement that she was “honoured” to introduce the House legislation that 14 other GOP members co-sponsored.

“May this serve as a constant reminder to the world and to the Chinese Government that truth and freedom will prevail, that we will not forget the bravery of Dr Li, and that the Chinese Communist Party will be held accountable for the devastating impact of their lies,” she the Hill quoted the Rep Senator as saying in its report.

Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) were Cheney’s co-sponsors to the bill.

The report noted that the Senate bill was introduced by Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.). 

“Renaming the street will help the world to remember Li who warned about the virus before it caused the pandemic,” Senator Cotton has said.

The doctor was among the eight health professionals in Wuhan who attempted to warn about the spread of the virus in December before COVID-19 became pandemic. 

Though he was reprimanded by police and made to sign a statement promising not to commit any more “law-breaking actions,” his death in February due to the illness triggered a nationwide outpouring of grief and a rare apology by police for his treatment.

The proposal by US lawmakers to honour the doctor is sure to draw fire from Beijing. 

Earlier in 2014, the lawmakers proposed to rename the street after Liu Xiaobo, China’s lone Noble Peace Prize laureate and human rights campaigner.

China then reacted by proposing to name the street outside the US embassy in Beijing after Edward Snowden, the former intelligence contractor who fled the United States to unveil government snooping on its citizens.

As of Thursday evening, the coronavirus has infected 3,864,696 million people, and killed at least 270,020, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

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