A British think tank has said that Western nations where tens of thousands have died and whose economies have been damaged by Chinese coronavirus should sue the Communist country for compensation.
The neoconservative Henry Jackson Society (HJS) released a report that said that if China were found liable for failures in its initial response to the Wuhan-origin pandemic and for intentionally withholding information from the rest of the world, a court could find Beijing in contravention of international treaties and the communist country would be liable to the rest of the world to the tune of trillions of pounds, said a report.
The report, Coronavirus Compensation? Assessing China’s Potential Culpability and Avenues of Legal Response, said that for G7 members alone, lawsuits related to “patent breaches” of the International Health Regulations (IHRs) could be worth up to £3.2 trillion. Individually, the United Kingdom could have a claim in damages worth £351 billion, the United States £933.3 billion, Canada £47.9 billion, and Australia £29.9 billion.
China’s early handling of the deadly respiratory disease, which resulted in the virus spreading rapidly outside of the Hubei province capital, and the communist government’s failure to abide by its obligation to inform the World Health Organization (WHO), is in contravention of Articles Six and Seven of the IHRs, of which China is a signatory.
The British government’s scientific advisory group had found that due to China covering up the extent of coronavirus in its early days, countries like the UK were not able to act as quickly to protect their own populations. The minutes from the UK’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) revealed, according to the HSJ report, that “the UK’s response was being hampered by inadequate, erroneous, and absent data. This was data that — under the IHRs — ought to have been shared globally as soon as it was received.”
Overall, the think tank’s report found that China “failed to disclose data that would have revealed evidence of human-to-human transmission for a period of up to three weeks from being aware of it”; provided the WHO with “erroneous information” on the number of infections between January 2nd and 11th; and allowed five million people to leave Wuhan before imposing the lockdown on January 23rd, “despite knowledge of human-to-human transmission”.
Matthew Henderson, the report’s co-author, said: “The Chinese Communist Party [CCP] has learnt no lessons from its failure in the SARS epidemic of 2002-3. Their repeated blunders, lies, and disinformation, from the start of the COVID-19 epidemic, have already had far more deadly consequences.
“This report apportions no blame to the people of China for what has happened. They are innocent victims, like the rest of us. This is the fault of the CCP.
“How this will translate into practice, time will tell. By computing the cost of damage caused to advanced economies and assembling a series of possible legal processes to which the rules-based order can have recourse, we offer a sense of how the free world might seek recompense for the appalling harm the CCP has done.”
Acknowledging the difficulty in obtaining compensation from China, the HJS nevertheless recommends “making use of the International Court of Justice; Permanent Court of Arbitration; Hong Kong Courts; dispute resolutions through Bilateral Investment Treaties; and actions at the WTO [World Trade Organization]”.