Italian NGOs mull China lawsuit over COVID-19 to seek attention

By GT staff reporterd Source:Global Times Published: 2020/4/24 1:18:41

A worker loads medical materials donated by East China's Zhejiang Province to Milan, Italy on March 17. Photo: cnsphoto

Chinese analysts and Italians reached by the Global Times slammed some Italian non-governmental organizations for trying to steal the spotlight after the latter claimed that they would sue China for COVID-19 compensation, following the US.    

In Italy, the Oneurope non-profit organization launched a class action suit against China over COVID-19, claiming that China failed to react promptly according to ob-ligations laid down by the WHO.

The test page for the launch of the class action by the organization has been online since Tuesday afternoon but has already had 335 contacts.

Italian consumer association Codacons is also considering a class action suit against China. Its president, Carlo Rienzi, told the media that they are working with an Amer-ican law firm to sue China in the US as Italy's consumer protection law is in-complete.

The lawsuit they claimed are not only ridiculous political games to steal the spotlight and scapegoat China but impracticable according to law, said experts in law reached by the Global Times. 

"No matter where the lawsuit is filed, Italy or the US, China enjoys sovereign immunity in these countries' civil judicial courts, which is a basic principle of international law," Huang Feng, director of Beijing Normal University's Institute for International Criminal Law, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

The lawsuit is obviously against the main cooperative trend between China and Italy, which is the reason for Codacons to play the tricky move to sue China in the US. And, it is possible that these organizations are colluding with some US forces given the US' deep cooperation with and influence on European think tanks and NGOs, according to analysts. 

"On the one hand, they wanted to hype the issue by filing the lawsuit, but on the other, they know it would be difficult to make it in Italy given the friendly environment between China and Italy at the current period. Moreover, they do not want to bear the risk of damaging China-Italian cooperation via the lawsuit," Cui Hongjian, director of EU Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times Thursday.

Italian people also slammed the moves. 

"These are political issues that do not affect the esteem and affection that ordinary people have for Chinese people and friends who have shown us so much empathy and closeness," Nadia Cutrupi, a resident in Bologna, told the Global Times. 

Another Italian resident named Anna from Naples told the Global Times that she believes that China has disclosed the actual data of COVID-19 cases and it is "too easy now to blame the Chinese for covering up the data but we forgot they always disclosed the data and warned that every country should organize itself to prevent the spread of the virus." 

The Global Times tried to search for more information about Oneurope but found nothing except its own website that claims the team is made up of both professionals from the non-profit sector and professionals from Marketing and Finance and that they are all volunteers and its goal is to facilitate the integration of foreign communities in Italy. 

Interviews with many locals and Chinese who have lived in the country for years showed that they have never heard about the organization. 

On its official Facebook page, it only has 1,009 fans. 

Codacons' website says it is an NGO established in 1986 to "protect the environment and consumers' rights" and among the consumer associations recognized by the Ital-ian government.

However, the association reportedly often was trapped in controversy, even lawsuits.  

In 2017, Codacons presented a "vaccine alarm" to the Roman prosecuratorate, citing a so-called report on the risks of vaccines. The Italian health ministry slammed Codacons and sued them over the complaint that lacked evidence and triggered pan-ic. 

Codacons is embroiled in another controversy over a false donation in recent weeks as a well-known Italian internet influencer revealed on social media that they launched a donation for COVID-19, but the donations went to their own accounts and were meant to get a tax break for the association.     

"Shut down Codacons!" netizens said on the influencer's post, with some saying Codacons had cheated them. 

The Global Times found that Codacons released two videos on Wednesday and Thursday on their so-called class action suit against China on their YouTube account, which received few likes and comments.

The latest study conducted by the Piepoli Institute that aims to monitor public sentiment every week regarding the evolution of the COVID-19 phenomenon shows the country that Italians see as the one that is helping them most is certainly China (52 percent), followed by Albania (18 percent) and Russia (9 percent). Only 3 percent would be the US, local media ANSA news agency reported on April 7. 

Another poll conducted by Italy-based research agency SWG in April also shows that China has skyrocketed its popularity in Italian public opinion in the past year while the US is losing ground.  

Among the countries considered "friends" by the Italian public opinion, China stands out with 52 percent of the consents, 42 percent of increase than in 2019, followed in the second place by Russia at 32 percent and by the US at 17 percent, a drop of 12 percent. 

About the question that "who should Italy join with hands with in the future," 36 percent of the interviewees answered China. 

Newspaper headline: Italian NGOs seek attention with lawsuit against China


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