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Let the blame games begin: Missouri sues China, including WUHAN LAB, over coronavirus outbreak

Let the blame games begin: Missouri sues China, including WUHAN LAB, over coronavirus outbreak
The state of Missouri has sued China – plus its Communist Party and a handful of other entities – for “causing a global pandemic that was unnecessary and preventable.” It’s the first state to take the dubious accusation to court.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed suit on Tuesday against the entire nation of China, its national, provincial and city governments, and a smattering of government agencies and research institutes, blaming the lot for allowing the coronavirus epidemic to go global. Laying the sum total of suffering that has resulted from the epidemic at China’s feet might sound like an overly ambitious gambit for little old Missouri, but the lawsuit reads less like a legal document and more like a manifesto.

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Defendants are responsible for the enormous death, suffering, and economic losses they inflicted on the world, including Missourians, and they should be held accountable,” Schmitt declares in the 47-page complaint. The specific parties being sued are the People’s Republic of China; the Chinese Communist Party; the local governments of Hubei Province and Wuhan; China’s National Health Commission, Ministry of Emergency Management, and Ministry of Civil Affairs; the Wuhan Institute of Virology; and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The lawsuit alleges that “during the critical weeks of the initial outbreak,” Chinese authorities kept it quiet by arresting whistleblowers, destroying research, “refusing cooperation with the global community,” and lying about person-to-person transmission – supposedly handicapping the global response. It’s a narrative that Americans have heard repeatedly from the Trump administration and Western media – including the dozens of articles from US outlets that Schmitt cites to make his case.

Literally every Missourian” was harmed physically and economically by China’s alleged actions and inactions, Schmitt claims, insisting this gives him grounds to sue – along with some legal gymnastics suggesting that China’s alleged “hoarding” of personal protective equipment constitutes international commerce. A group of Republican senators introduced a bill last week that would make it even easier to bleed China over coronavirus damages, potentially opening up a pressure release valve for Americans upset about being laid off and looking for someone to blame. 

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While Schmitt is far from the first lawyer to salivate at the thought of extracting billions of dollars in restitution payments from China, any attempt to blame the country’s government for the epidemic is likely to boomerang. Multiple reports (and a few insider stock trades) indicate Washington was aware of the looming epidemic for months before taking action to protect the American people, and all the unfounded rumors about lab accidents in the world won’t protect the Trump administration or Congress if those facts come out.

Proving that China forced local US governments’ hands in shutting down their economies and putting over 22 million Americans out of work is next to impossible, as is laying the blame for thousands of sick Missourians at the feet of a foreign government and not the local government whose policies kept quality healthcare out of the financial reach of millions. While the Missouri lawsuit attempts to draw a direct causal line between the actions of the Chinese government and the infringement on Missourians’ “common rights,” it’s just as likely that a court will see the actions of the state government that enacted the unprecedented shutdown as infringing on those rights. Schmitt might think twice about opening that particular can of worms lest a wave of class-action lawsuits results – his is the first state to sue the Chinese for the coronavirus, but it likely won’t be the last.

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