News & Politics

New Bill Would Empower Americans to Sue China for Coronavirus Outbreak

In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping (Xie Huanchi/Xinhua via AP)

Americans will be able to take the Chinese Communist Party to court for its lies and omissions about the Chinese Wuhan coronavirus from the Middle Kingdom under a new bill proposed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas). The bill would strike down immunity for foreign countries like China in the specific case of the coronavirus, enabling Americans to sue for damages in U.S. courts.

“By silencing doctors and journalists who tried to warn the world about the coronavirus, the Chinese Communist Party allowed the virus to spread quickly around the globe,” Cotton said in a statement on the legislation. “Their decision to cover up the virus led to thousands of needless deaths and untold economic harm. It’s only appropriate that we hold the Chinese government accountable for the damage it has caused.”

“We need to hold the Chinese government accountable for their malicious lies and coverup that allowed the coronavirus to spread across the world,” Crenshaw declared. “The communist regime expelled journalists, silenced whistleblowers, and withheld vital information that delayed the global response to the pandemic. Simply put: their actions cost American lives and livelihoods. This bill will help ensure China’s actions are not without consequences.”

The Senate bill, which is yet to be filed, is entitled, the “‘Holding the Chinese Communist Party Accountable for Infecting Americans Act of 2020.” The legislation has been modeled after the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, for which 97 senators voted in 2016.

According to Cotton’s press release, “The bill makes clear that that covering up the virus and causing it to spread faster or further than it otherwise would have can be considered a tortious act.”

“Cotton’s bill gives the United States a powerful tool to get China to pay for the damage it has caused: If the United States and China come to an agreement to settle the claims, then the private suits could be dismissed. In other words, China can take responsibility and agree to pay for the damage it has caused, or it can face potentially millions of claims in federal court,” Cotton’s office added.

Even without Cotton’s bill, China’s Communist Party is liable to be sued for damages under international law. The British think tank the Henry Jackson Society (HJS) claimed that countries should sue China for breaking international law and demand trillions in damages.

“From the outset, the CCP tried to censor attempts by Chinese citizens to identify and publicise the truth concerning the origins, nature and dangers of the virus. Not all of these censorship efforts succeeded, and a considerable body of independent, corroborative data came to light,” the HJS report explains. The report lays out a helpful brief outline of the outbreak, highlighting China’s malfeasance in lying about the disease and failing to contain the spread.

According to unpublished, unconfirmed Chinese government reports seen by the South China Morning Post, the first recorded case of the coronavirus dates to November 17, 2019, weeks before The Lancet‘s claim that the first recorded case came on December 1. By December 8, the SCMP documents recorded between 1 and 5 new cases. By December 27, the SCMP documents showed 181 confirmed cases, and a friend of coronavirus whistleblower Dr. Li Wenliang recalled that his medical department first reported the new outbreak to the Wuhan Center for Disease Control on the 27th.

On December 30, Dr. Li sent a message to his friends about the outbreak, and the police responded by investigating his friends. The authorities forced Dr. Li to pledge not to spread “disruptive rumors.” Meanwhile, by that date, the SCMP documents recorded 266 cases. Li would go on to die of COVID-19 after contracting it from his patients. On December 31, China finally reported the outbreak to the WHO, while claiming there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission.

On January 1, 2020 a Hubei official ordered coronavirus tests halted and samples of the virus destroyed. On January 14, the WHO reported some human-to-human transmission, but quickly retracted the claim, citing Chinese sources. Wuhan was not put under lockdown until January 22-23. On January 26, Wuhan’s mayor admitted that 5 million people had already left the city.

On January 7, the CCP’s journal Qiushi began publishing timelines of President Xi Jinping’s efforts against the outbreak. A transcript of a speech Xi gave on February 3 referred to a statement he had made on January 7 at a meeting of the CCP Politburo Standing Committee, when he had “issued requirements for the prevention and control of the new Coronavirus.”

Xi Jinping could have acted to shut down Wuhan as early as January 7, two weeks before the city was shut down. A University of Southampton study found that if strict quarantine measures had been introduced three weeks earlier, the coronavirus’s spread would have been reduced by 95 percent.

As the coronavirus spread across the globe, China’s Communist Party put out a video encouraging Italians to hug Chinese people to prove they weren’t racist — while China was lying about the true danger of the virus. Chinese companies also sent faulty medical gear and coronavirus antibody tests to European countries. As PJ Media’s Stephen Green reported, the Communist Party is also preventing U.S. companies from shipping their own medical gear back home, where it is sorely needed. Meanwhile, Xi attempts to blame the U.S. for the virus.

Cotton’s bill cites these and other reasons to hold China’s Communist Party accountable for the spread of the global pandemic. The senator has also raised the alarm about the U.S. medical supply chain’s reliance on China — a totalitarian communist country known for its One Child Policy, its brutal oppression of the Muslim Uyghur population, and its stringent crackdown on unofficial religions, including many forms of Christianity. To be clear, people of Chinese descent are not the problem, and Chinese Americans have contributed a great deal to the U.S., but the Chinese Communist Party is a menacing threat to its own people and the world.

The coronavirus outbreak is arguably China’s Chernobyl, and countries should hold the Communist Party accountable for abetting this pandemic. Cotton’s bill represents one more step in that direction. Sadly, it seems any effort to hold China accountable for the virus will be dead on arrival in the House of Representatives, as Democrats continue to cover for the Communist Party.

Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.

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