The state of Missouri has filed a lawsuit against China over the communist nation’s handling of the coronavirus, making it the first state to do so.
“In Missouri, the impact of the virus is very real — thousands have been infected and many have died, families have been separated from dying loved ones, small businesses are shuttering their doors, and those living paycheck to paycheck are struggling to put food on their table,” Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said in a Tuesday statement.
The suit targets Chinese agencies and the Chinese Communist Party in a legal strategy that could allow Missouri to sue in spite of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which bars most lawsuits against foreign governments, according to Fox News.
The suit filed in the Eastern District of Missouri claims China turned a blind eye to the rest of the world while trying to protect its reputation. The suit further alleges that after the pandemic was under way, China sought to hoard personal protective equipment needed by other nations.
“An appalling campaign of deceit, concealment, misfeasance, and inaction by Chinese authorities unleashed this pandemic,” the lawsuit read.
“During the critical weeks of the initial outbreak, 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.”
The suit put the darkest possible interpretation on China’s actions.
“This COVID-19 pandemic is the direct result of a sinister campaign of malfeasance and deception carried out by Defendants,” it said.
“Defendants, in violation of their duties to the international community, engaged in dangerous activities that imperiled the lives and health of millions. … When their actions began to kill hundreds of thousands of people across the globe, Defendants sought to minimize the consequences, engaging in a coverup and misleading public relations campaign by censoring scientists, ordering the destruction and suppression of valuable research, and refusing cooperation with the global community, all in violation of international health standards.”
The suit noted that Missouri has experienced only a part of the global suffering for which China is at fault.
“Missouri is not alone: the virus unleashed by the Communist Party of China and the Chinese government has left no community in the world untouched,” the lawsuit said
“When China did inform the WHO of the disease, Chinese authorities denied human-to-human transmission, despite having significant evidence to the contrary. On information and belief, Defendants’ denial induced the WHO to also deny or downplay the risk of human-to human transmission in the critical weeks while the virus was first spreading.”
Once the world was suffering, China sought to gain, according to the suit.
“[T]he Defendants’ hoarding of PPE has been motivated, at least in part, by the desire to profit from increased worldwide demand of PPE during the viral outbreak, including in Missouri,” the suit read.
“Defendants’ hoarding of PPE has adversely impaired the ability of health care providers throughout the world, including in the United States and in Missouri, from safely and effectively treating patients with the virus.
“The conduct of the Defendants was knowing, willful, and in reckless disregard of the rights of the State and its residents. Defendants demonstrated a complete indifference to or conscious disregard for the safety of the public and their conduct was unreasonable and was reckless in light of the known risks to them of COVID-19,” the suit read.
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