As the coronavirus toll rise, a US state has filed a lawsuit alleging that China’s dubious handling of the pandemic led to deaths and “irreparable damage” to the world, but Beijing swiftly dismissed it as “nothing short of absurdity.” In the lawsuit, the state of Missouri alleged that China concealed information, arrested whistle-blowers, and hid the contagious nature of the virus that jeopardized people’s health around the world.
China, however, questioned the factual and legal basis of the lawsuit. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that “this so-called accusation has no factual and legal basis. It is nothing short of absurdity”. Rubbishing the allegations, Mr Geng reaffirmed that his government has acted in an open, transparent, and responsible manner throughout the crisis, which he said is evidenced in the reports it issued to the World Health Organization (WHO) as well as to countries, including the US, besides issuing general sequence of the virus.
He said that China has been in touch with the US on this issue since January. “This is part of China’s important contribution, and recognized by the international community. This so-called litigation is malicious. It violates the basic law and principle of equal sovereignty in international law. The Chinese government’s response in the pandemic is not under the jurisdiction of the US courts,” the spokesman added.
The lawsuit was filed by the Missouri Attorney General, Eric Schmitt, at a court for the Eastern District on April 22, against the Chinese government, the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), and officials and institutions. The petitioner alleged that the denial of vital information such as the virus’ transmission capability, destruction of medical research, and hoarding of critical medical equipment have exacerbated the crisis, which otherwise, could have been prevented.The lawsuit seeks relief on several counts of public nuisance, abnormally dangerous activities, and breach of duty. Remedies could include civil penalties, restitution, abatement of the public nuisance, cessation of dangerous activities, punitive damages, and more, it said.
The Chinese official said that the US should reject such abuse of legal proceedings. However, anti-China sentiments have increased recently as the virus takes a firm grip in many countries, especially in Europe and North America. Several European nations, including France, Austria, and Germany, have recently summoned the Chinese diplomats over various COVID-19 issues, said a news report. For instance, in France, the Chinese diplomat was called to explain the negative reports on its Embassy website about France’s handling of the crisis. Some reports allegedly claimed that the elderly were left out to fend for themselves.
Tensions between the US and China over the pandemic have been growing, and President Donald Trump doesn’t mince any words when it comes to his rant against Beijing on the crisis. While China has reported 82,788 coronavirus cases, including 4,632 fatalities, the US registered over 824,600 cases and over 45,290 deaths — the highest in the world.Mr Trump has demanded China to allow US investigators to probe the COVID-19 in Wuhan as well as the role of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, amid claims that the virus had first escaped from the lab.
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