When we see all the devastation that has been caused by the coronavirus pandemic, it’s natural to want to hold someone accountable – and it’s looking increasingly like China is culpable. This is far from a conspiracy theory; the state of Missouri is now suing the Chinese government, along with other institutions, for their role in the pandemic and the negative effects it has had on the state.
Yesterday, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced the civil lawsuit had been filed in a Missouri federal court. The lawsuit is the first of its kind, and it accuses the country of covering up information about the disease, silencing whistleblowers, and not doing enough to stop its spread.
The lawsuit says: “Chinese authorities deceived the public, suppressed crucial information, arrested whistleblowers, 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—thus causing a global pandemic that was unnecessary and preventable.”
It goes on to allege that the Chinese medical community failed to inform the World Health Organization about the virus quickly enough after noticing human-to-human transmission, and they continued to allow thousands of individuals to travel both to and from Wuhan.
It cites the example of Wuhan leaders hosting a large dinner for thousands of residents despite knowing about the risks. At the Lunar New Year banquet held in January, 40,000 families gathered to share potluck meals even as the disease was starting to spread.
Schmitt added that China might have allowed the virus to escape in the first place from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a theory that has been gaining credibility as investigations continue. In fact, Fox News recently reported that the COVID-19 patient zero was actually an employee of the lab and not a random person who picked it up from a bat at a wet market.
Regardless of whether they allowed the virus to escape or not, he argued, the government should have at least known that the research being conducted on such a deadly virus could lead to such a huge disaster, especially in light of previous safety concerns at the same lab.
The state is also accusing China of hoarding personal protective equipment, stating that the low amounts that they have released have been “faulty.” The suit also points out the tremendous economic disruptions their actions have had on the world as well as the toll on human health and life. The suit estimates that the state’s residents have suffered economic damages in the tens of billions of dollars.
There’s also the fact that people there are struggling to cover basic living expenses and food. Businesses are closing, and people are being separated from their dying loved ones.
Missouri has seen more than 6,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus so far and at least 229 deaths. Prior to the pandemic, the state was experiencing one of the lowest unemployment rates it has seen in the past decade; it’s now at the highest level since the time of the Great Depression.
In addition to seeking damages, the lawsuit aims to hold China’s government accountable for the pandemic.
The lawsuit names the Chinese government, the Chinese Communist Party, and other officials and institutions in the country. However, experts say sovereign immunity gives foreign governments protection from being sued in American courts.
The motion came after several GOP lawmakers requested that the Trump administration move against China at the International Court of Justice on account of violating the 2005 International Health Regulations by covering up critical information about the deadly disease.
Sources for this article include: