China on Wednesday (April 22) dismissed as nothing short of absurdity and violation of sovereignty the lawsuit filed by the US state of Missouri which alleges that Beijing suppressed COVID-19 information, arrested whistle-blowers and denied its contagious nature, leading to the loss of life and causing “irreparable damage” to the world.
Filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, the lawsuit was submitted by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt against the Chinese government, the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), and other Chinese officials and institutions.
It alleges that during the critical weeks of the initial outbreak, the Chinese authorities deceived the public, suppressed crucial information, arrested whistle-blowers, denied human-to-human transmission in the face of mounting evidence, destroyed critical medical research, permitted millions of people to be exposed to the virus, and even hoarded Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), causing a global pandemic that was unnecessary and preventable.
The lawsuit seeks relief on one count of public nuisance, one count of abnormally dangerous activities, and two counts of breach of duty.
Remedies could include civil penalties and restitution, abatement of the public nuisance, cessation of abnormally dangerous activities, punitive damages, and more, it said.
Reacting to the lawsuit, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said: “This so-called accusation has no factual and legal basis. It is nothing short of absurdity.”
He reiterated that since the outbreak, the Chinese government has been acting in an open, transparent, and responsible manner to report the information to the US and other countries and the World Health Organization (WHO) besides issuing a general sequence of the virus.
Geng said China is in communication with the US on this issue since January 3, ensuring updates.
This is part of China’s important contribution and recognised by the international community. This so-called litigation is a malicious abuse of litigation. 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 US courts, he said.
Geng said that such abuse of ligation is not conducive to epidemic response at home in the US and also runs counter to international cooperation.
What the US should do is to refute and reject such abuse of litigation, he said.
Besides the lawsuit, China faced stringent criticism from US President Donald Trump and its top politicians and officials including allegations of a cover-up and underreporting of coronavirus casualties.
While China has reported 82,788 novel coronavirus cases, including 4,632 fatalities, the US registered over 824,600 cases and more than 45,290 deaths – the highest in the world.