Washington, Jul 21 (PTI) Some half-a-dozen influential Republican lawmakers on Monday introduced a legislation in the Senate to allow Americans to sue China in federal court for its role in causing the coronavirus pandemic.
The Civil Justice for Victims of COVID Act gives federal courts authority to hear claims that China has caused or substantially contributed to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Introduced by senators Martha McSally, Marsha Blackburn, Tom Cotton, Josh Hawley, Mike Rounds and Thom Tillis, the bill strips China of its sovereign immunity for reckless actions that caused the pandemic and creates a cause of action. It also authorises federal courts to freeze Chinese assets.
The legislation is closely modelled after the 2016 Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) that gave more legal remedies to victims of terrorism, particularly the 9/11 victims.
Americans who have been victimised by the lies and deceit of the Chinese Communist Party-to include those who lost loved ones, suffered business losses, or were personally harmed due to COVID-19-deserve the opportunity to hold China accountable and to demand just compensation, McSally said.
As the death toll and financial losses of COVID-19 mount, China should be forced to pay the costs of these damages to the American people, he said.
Blackburn said that China’s Communist Party must face consequences for concealing and now profiting off the COVID-19 pandemic they enabled.
The costs are devastating: trillions of dollars in economic damage, millions of American jobs lost, and over a half million deaths worldwide and counting. Business owners and families who have lost loved ones deserve justice, he said.
By silencing doctors and journalists who tried to warn the world about the coronavirus, the Chinese Communist Party allowed the virus to spread quickly around the globe, Cotton said, adding their decision to cover up the virus led to thousands of needless deaths and untold economic harm.
Rounds said that China must be held accountable for its failure to contain COVID-19 and alleged that the country’s delay in sharing the seriousness of the virus with the rest of the world isn’t just negligence it is criminal in nature.
If China would have been transparent from the start, many more lives would have been saved in all parts of the world. Our legislation provides the tools necessary for American citizens to sue the Chinese Communist Party in federal court for financial losses incurred because of COVID-19, he said.
Tillis alleged that the Chinese Communist Party lied to the world about COVID-19 and allowed it to become a global pandemic, causing many Americans to tragically lose their loved ones and face immense financial hardship.
The American people deserve the right to hold the Chinese government accountable for its malicious actions, and I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this commonsense bill, he said.