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China lobs more new insults at the US over lawsuits – here they are

Medical workers at Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University in Wuhan, China. (Xiong Qi/Xinhua via AP/TNS)
May 05, 2020

The Chinese state media outlet People’s Daily criticized U.S. efforts to seek compensation for damages caused by the coronavirus pandemic in a new editorial.

In an editorial titled, “U.S. practice to claim compensation for COVID-19 outbreak a shame for human civilization” the People’s Daily editorial team rejected U.S. calls for compensation for the damage caused by the coronavirus outbreak and suggested China holds no responsibility for the disease’s trajectory through the U.S. population.

“Some U.S. politicians are making the COVID-19 pandemic a political show, from repeatedly politicizing the disease and stigmatizing other countries, to the lousy cliché of claiming compensation,” the editorial began.

“What they have done is an affront to international law and justice. The terms about sovereign immunity in the international law stipulate that the practices and treasure of a country are not bound to the legislation, jurisdiction or administration of other countries,” the editorial states. “More importantly, the sudden outbreak of an epidemic is a global public health incidence, which is considered force majeure in legal context.”

The editorial goes on to suggest that while the first coronavirus cases appeared in China, the disease origin remains a mystery.

“China is the first to report COVID-19 infection, but the origin of the virus needs further science-based studies,” the editorial states.

“Facts indicate that China’s containment efforts do not have any causality with the outbreak in the U.S.,” the editorial continues. “Even former Counselor on International Law Chimène Keitner in the U.S. Department of State couldn’t tolerate the practices of some U.S. politicians. She said any professionals with actual working experience about sovereign immunity would find that the U.S. courts have no jurisdiction as long as they take a look at the titles of the lawsuits.”

The editorial further praises the response of the World Health Organization (WHO), which has also been criticized for siding with inaccurate Chinese claims about the virus. The editorial repeated calls from WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to not politicize the virus.

“U.S. politicians should listen to the sincere advice from the civilized world, as the continuing farce would only lead to fewer supports and self-humiliation,” the editorial concludes.

The editorial appears as a defense of China against a mounting number of U.S. lawsuits. Reports have indicated a pattern of deception in China’s early handling of the virus outbreak, including punishing whistleblowers and delaying revelations about the virus’ human-to-human transmissibility.

Missouri was the first U.S. state to file a lawsuit against the Chinese government, claiming damages from their handling of the outbreak. Another class-action effort against China has garnered more than 10,000 Americans.

Lawsuits are among a number of ideas U.S. lawmakers have also considered to exact compensation from China over its alleged wrongdoing in handling the virus outbreak. Republican Sen. Tom Cotton and Rep. Dan Crenshaw recently introduced legislation to amend sovereign immunity laws to allow U.S. lawsuits against China to proceed. The legislation follows a similar model as one set forth in a 2016 act that allowed U.S. citizens to sue the Saudi Arabian government for alleged connections to the 9/11 terror attacks.

Other nations are also considering litigation against China for the pandemic. A lawsuit effort is also underway in Egypt, according to Arab News and is requesting $10 trillion in compensation.

The Guardian reported a Nigerian firm, Azinge and Azinge, announced plans to sue for $200 billion in damages from China. The Guardian separately reported lawsuits being proposed by an Italian hotel and ski resort.

While the People’s Daily editorial called the concept of lawsuits against China “political farce,” China has itself allowed an internal lawsuit against Hubei provincial authorities and the Wuhan municipal government to proceed, Radio Free Asia reported. The lawsuit was filed by a government employee in Hubei, the Chinese province where the outbreak first began, and claims leaders in the city of Wuhan and Hubei’s provincial government concealed the true human-to-human transmissibility of the coronavirus for weeks.