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Global Times

China mulling punitive countermeasure on US over COVID-19 lawsuits: sources

Global Times

By Li Sikun and Chen Qingqing Published: 2020/5/14 0:33:13

China is extremely dissatisfied with US excessive litigation against China over the COVID-19 epidemic and mulling punitive countermeasures on US individuals, entities and state officials like Missouri's attorney general, who filed lawsuits against China in seeking damages over the coronavirus pandemic, sources close to the matter told the Global Times exclusively, and China won't just strike back symbolically, but impose countermeasures that could make them feel the pain, analysts said.

Senators who also actively pushed the anti-China bill over the pandemic include Josh Hawley - a Missouri Republican - who came up with the "Justice for Victims of COVID-19 Act" in mid-April which would take away China's sovereign immunity and permit US citizens to sue the Chinese government for downplaying COVID-19 information. Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton and Texas Republican Dan Crenshaw also introduced legislation that would allow Americans to sue China over the coronavirus.

On April 16, Cotton introduced legislation that would allow Americans to sue China in federal court to recover damages for death, injury, and economic harm caused by the coronavirus. Specifically, the bill would amend the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act to create a narrow exception for damages caused by China's handling of the coronvirus outbreak. A day later, Republican Chris Smith of New Jersey proposed the likewise bill to strip China of its sovereign immunity and allow Americans to sue the Chinese government, according to his official website. Republican Jim Banks also joined the blame game in condemning the Chinese government's handling of the epidemic outbreak.

For those lawmakers, anti-China deeds have almost fully covered their daily routines. In fact, Hawley introduced legislation along with another Republican Rick Scott on March 12 to ban all federal employees from using TikTok on government devices. Smith has also been a frequent instigator on China-related topics, particularly on so-called human rights issues. In March 2019, Smith introduced legislation to tackle China's political influence in the US by saying "Beijing's influence operations are sophisticated and threatening."

American lawyer Larry Klayman and his advocacy group Freedom Watch, along with Texas company Buzz Photos also filed a lawsuit against the Chinese government. The plaintiffs have sought $20 trillion from China. In addition, Missouri became the first US state to sue the Chinese government. Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed a lawsuit on April 21 claiming that China did little to stop the spread of the virus and "lied to the world about the danger and contagious nature of COVID-19," and that Missouri residents may have suffered tens of billions of dollars in economic damage.

China has repeatedly stressed that cooperation between China and the US is mutually beneficial while always maintaining the hope that bilateral relations will develop in a healthy direction. However, we cannot back down again and again and tolerate some people who have endlessly smeared China-US relations, analysts said.

"We must resolutely crack down on those politicians who, for no reason, undermine China-US ties for their own political benefits. For those who promote anti-China legislation, we need to find out what the business ties are between those officials or their families with China," Yuan Zheng, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), told the Global Times on Wednesday.

"We can't just strike back symbolically, but impose countermeasures that could make them feel the pain," Yuan said.

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