US practice to claim compensation for COVID-19 outbreak a shame for human civilization

By Zhong Sheng Source:People's Daily Published: 2020/5/3 16:14:02

A man wearing a mask walks past the US Federal Reserve building in Washington D.C., the United States, on April 29, 2020. (Xinhua/Liu Jie)

Some US politicians are making the COVID-19 pandemic a political show, from repeatedly politicizing the disease and stigmatizing other countries, to the lousy cliché of claiming compensation.

The political farce staged again and again by the US, a major country that touts itself as an "international leader", is astonishing people around the world. 

Even American media outlets outlined the need for joint anti-pandemic efforts from the international society, the mission to save lives, and the trend to conduct anti-pandemic cooperation. However, trying to divert people's attention, the US politicians showed no conscience, and they shall never be tolerated for undermining international cooperation.

The US side once said openly that it greatly appreciates China's efforts and transparency, and the data China shared are helpful for the US efforts against the epidemic. However, Washington just had a U-turn, and some US politicians thought they could escape their due responsibilities by doing so.

According to the best practices for naming new human infectious diseases jointly made by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other international organizations, disease names shall not include countries or regions. However, the US politicians blatantly violated the rules and called the novel coronavirus "Chinese virus" and "Wuhan virus." While the international society is generally lauding China's contribution made at huge sacrifice, they are forming cliques for blackmailing.

What they have done is an affront to international law and justice. The terms about sovereign immunity in the international law stipulate that the practices and treasure of a country are not bound to the legislation, jurisdiction or administration of other countries. More importantly, the sudden outbreak of an epidemic is a global public health incidence, which is considered force majeure in legal context. China is the first to report COVID-19 infection, but the origin of the virus needs further science-based studies.

Facts indicate that China's containment efforts do not have any causality with the outbreak in the US Even former Counselor on International Law Chimène Keitner in the US Department of State couldn't tolerate the practices of some US politicians. She said any professionals with actual working experience about sovereign immunity would find that the US courts have no jurisdiction as long as they take a look at the titles of the lawsuits.

However, some US politicians did not drop the idea at all to claim compensation, and they resorted to exceptions of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. Lea Brilmayer, professor of international law at Yale Law School called such practice "a last-ditch effort to do something to respond to the political situation," and Keitner considered it a "total nightmare."

China firstly reported the disease doesn't suggest the virus originated in the country. The source of the virus is a serious scientific issue that can only be studied by scientists and medical experts, not the crazy imagination by certain American politicians. In order to reach political goals, the US politicians illogically fantasized about the virus' existence in China, and such groundless assumption driven by politics is not even agreed by authoritative infection control specialists in the US who said such blame goes against facts.

It is globally recognized that China has always responded to the epidemic and shared relevant information in an open, transparent, timely and responsible manner, and the country was hailed by the WHO for its moves' high speed and massive scale which are rarely seen in the world. China's all-out efforts have established a strong line of defense. The political manipulation by certain Americans who ignore facts and fabricate data has no moral baseline and deviates from humanity.

According to US media, the White House National Security Council instigated US officials to shift the blames to China for the coronavirus, and the Senate Republican campaign arm distributed a 57-page messaging strategy that urged Republican candidates to blame China for the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Professor Tom Ginsburg of political science at the University of Chicago saw through the plot, saying the lawsuits against China aim to "cover up for the US government's own errors" and offer political support for the Republicans in the November election.

Blatantly trampling upon the sovereignty of other countries and damaging the international rule of law with supremacy, the US is standing on the totally opposite side of international justice. It deeply worried Georgetown University professor David Stewart who remarked that"All those folks looking at China ought to be looking over their shoulder saying, 'Wait a minute, can we be sued?' "

The 1918 flu pandemic originated in the US and caused a huge humanitarian disaster, and who is to blame for that? The first AIDS infection emerged in the US and later the virus spread to over 75 million people around the world and led to 35 million deaths, and who should compensate for the loss? The Wall Street Journal is the origin of the 2008 financial crisis, so when will the US compensate the world for the losses over trillions of dollars?

There are also questions that need to be raised to the US Why are the CT images of the patients of electronic cigarette pneumonia that broke out last August in the US resemble those of the COVID-19 patients? What on earth happened in the bioweapons lab in Fort Detrick, Maryland? When did the earliest COVID-19 infection happen in the US, since a COVID-19 patient without travel history to China died on Feb. 6? Why are American scientists silenced for publishing COVID-19 studies in the US which always brags about its freedom of speech? Chinese and European scientists have published multiple genetic sequencing results of the novel coronavirus, and why doesn't the US release its studies as the top power in biogenetic studies? The US politicians must give answers.

WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that countries seeking to politicize the Covid-19 pandemic are "playing with fire." "If you don't want many more body bags, then you refrain from politicizing it," he said.

US politicians should listen to the sincere advice from the civilized world, as the continuing farce would only lead to fewer supports and self-humiliation.

(Zhong Sheng is a pen name often used by People's Daily to express its views on foreign policy.)

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