US coronavirus lawsuits pick at the scabs of China’s ‘century of humiliation’

James WertschJames Wertsh, David R. Francis Distinguished Professor, McDonnell International Scholars Academy director

 

In April, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt
filed a lawsuit against China for alleged acts of irresponsibility over the Covid-19 pandemic. He charged that Chinese officials “are responsible for the enormous death, suffering and economic losses they inflicted on the world, including Missourians”.

Since then, many other lawsuits, including class actions that would represent thousands of people and businesses, have been filed in places like California and Florida. None of these suits stands much chance of moving forward in US courts due to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976, which places strong barriers against suing a foreign state.

So why are these suits being filed? Largely for domestic political reasons. They are coming in a US election year, and conservative politicians want to be seen as tough on China, in part to divert attention away from the deplorable failure of the Trump administration in addressing the Covid-19 pandemic in the US.

Read the full piece in the South China Morning Post.

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