Ridiculous legal arguments about suing China show Indian elites’ hysteria
Published: Jun 30, 2021 10:22 PM

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Abhijit Bhattacharyya, an advocate of India's Supreme Court, published an anti-China opinion piece entitled "Pandemic is a fit case for China to pay up" in the Indian newspaper The Tribune on Tuesday. Bhattacharyya said in the article that "the door is open" to take the Communist Party of China (CPC) to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Such a cliché has no legal basis, nor is it based on facts at all. First, from a legal point of view, the ICJ is the main judicial organ of the United Nations (UN). It needs a state's consent to exercise its jurisdiction, but China has never given one. This means that it has no jurisdiction over China. Therefore, without the consent of the Chinese government, it is impossible to bring a lawsuit against China in the ICJ. Bhattacharyya's article is nothing but another example of discrediting China in the international community. It is legally impossible.

Second, the article is completely opposite to the facts. The International Health Regulations (2005) requires countries to report information to the World Health Organization (WHO) on certain disease outbreaks and public health events. As is known to all, after the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, China promptly notified the WHO and other countries in the first place. It also shared the full genetic sequence of the novel coronavirus, and has informed the WHO about the situation on a regular basis. China also published a timeline on COVID-19 information sharing and advancing international cooperation in both Chinese and English. The so-called investigation of China is entirely a presumption of guilt. China is not guilty of anything.

The author also accuses China of winning over leaders of countries to "ravage resources." He claims this is the "new multi-front, multi-dimensional war of the CPC." He even advocates for the CPC "be taken before a specially constituted court by the affected nations, on the lines of the Nuremberg and Tokyo war crime tribunals." 

This is just nonsense. The Nuremberg and Tokyo trials declared Germany and Japan's invasions as an international crime. Holding invaders accountable has become an internationally practiced principle, which is an important contribution to world peace. Can the author find any convincing example of China committing international crimes? 

The author also asserted that "the supreme need of the hour is to combat the CPC through international bodies, showing gumption to abort the threat to human existence posed by a single nation's ruling party" and that "the ICJ aside, the International Law Commission could also be take on board."

Throughout the article, the author has shown no legal basis or facts at all, making the article like claptrap. One may question the legal professionalism of the author too. Bhattacharyya seemed to be talking about the ICJ and the International Law Commission, but it seems that he has no knowledge of them at all.

But what makes people surprised and confused is the title of the author, "Advocate, Supreme Court," the supreme judicial body of India and the highest court of India under the constitution.

This reminds people that in 2020, a London-based company, the International Council of Jurists, and a so-called India Bar Association (IBA) filed a complaint in front of the United Nations Human Rights Council, asking the organization to inquire and direct China to, "adequately compensate the international community." Moreover, the IBA sued WHO Chief Scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan on May 25, accusing her of causing the deaths of Indian citizens. In fact, the so-called IBA is just a civil organization in India.

The author is an "advocate" of the supreme judicial body of India, but he still talks nonsense thorough his whole article. By doing this, he is humiliating himself. There is no legal room of discussion for his opinions at all.

The UN system established after the WWII is the core of contemporary international law and international order. China has been firmly supporting the international order with the UN at its core and the entire international system based on international law. The UN is the most extensive and authoritative international organization representing the whole world. It is impossible for some so-called institutions or individuals to make the ICJ and the UN an anti-China tool. 

Sovereignty is the supreme authority within a territory. Whether the ICJ has a state's consent to exercise its jurisdiction or not is based on the premise of all countries' free will. As long as the Chinese government refuses, some people and countries' attempt to make China "pay up" will never yield any practical effect under the current international law system.

The article was compiled based on an interview with Huo Zhengxin, a law professor from China University of Political Science and Law. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn