An influential British think tank, the Henry Jackson Society, has published the most detailed legal paper so far on Chinese liabilities for the epidemic.
by Ruth Ingram
The Henry Jackson Society report
China must be made to pay for the carnage wreaked by Covid19 on the world.
According to a UK think tank’s report released this week, Beijing and the CCP must be left in no doubt that they are responsible for not only the economic, but the myriad and devastating social and emotional fallout throughout the world, resulting from its willful negligence. And they must pay up.
Adding its weight to calls around the world for a legal response to the Coronavirus catastrophe, a joint co-authored paper released by the Henry Jackson Society (HJS) entitled: “Coronavirus compensation? Assessing China’s potential culpability and avenues of legal response,” has urged that Beijing face the full force of international law.
“If a company pollutes, we expect it to clear up the mess. Covid-19 spread because of China’s negligence, cover-up, lies,” rails HJS’s promotional video. “So far the world’s biggest economies have spent £3.2 trillion cleaning up the mess. To make sure this never happens again, the world should explore the possibilities of legal action against China.”
Mendoza: There is enough evidence to sue China and the CCP
Crunching the eye watering financial numbers this week on the UK’s Talk Radio station, Dr Alan Mendoza, one of the authors of the report and Executive Director of HJS, denied Chinese accusations that their report was simply another example of “China bashing,” but said that they were trying to “address issues of justice, compensation and reflection amid negligence and cover-ups by the Chinese state.” “How did this virus get out of China to where we are today?” He asked.
Asked whether the blame for a virus could be lain at the door of a nation or the political party ruling it, Dr. Mendoza pointed to the safeguards other Asian nations had put in place following previous Coronavirus SARS and MERS outbreaks, whereas the CCP, ignoring every international protocol, covered up evidence in November and December of a new virus with the potential for human to human transmission. Not only did the CCP keep the discovery secret but employed bully boy tactics of intimidation and misinformation which allowed millions of people, potentially infected by the virus, to leave the epicenter and travel to all parts of China and the world, with disastrous consequences. “Had they taken action,” said Dr. Mendoza, “this would never have happened.”
He described how the CCP’s lies manipulated and deceived the WHO, rendering it impotent. “The mechanisms to defend ourselves and the kindred spirit that the IHR (International Health Regulations) were supposed to instill effectively were thrown away,” and the WHO rendered “useless,” he said. This confirmed in his mind, China’s culpability, he added.
However fraught “going after” China or the CCP might appear, Dr. Mendoza and his colleagues have identified ten possible avenues of legal redress and urge individuals, companies and states to pursue justice in the courts.
“Although our own governments are responsible for what is happening in our countries, this all started in one place,” he said. “We cannot have a situation where that is not brought to international attention and justice not brought to bear on that basis.” He added that he and his colleagues wanted to see more than simply an acknowledgement by China of guilt. “We want much more than that given the level of damage. There’s a clear line of evidence that goes back to China and they have to be held responsible for that.”
Launching an action against the second largest economy on earth and the most populous nation on earth, however daunting, was possible, claimed Dr. Mendoza. He advocated going through the WHO to examine health regulations breached by China, its cover ups and deliberate concealment of information. Action was also possible through the International Court of Justice, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, and Bilateral Investment Treaties. “We’ve identified avenues and they should be investigated,” he insisted. Even if the process takes years, “this in itself should be a salutary lesson for the Chinese,” he added.
Henderson: “China should pay US $ 4 trillion”
Speaking on the program Wake Up Australia, this week, a co-author of the report and former British diplomat in China, Matthew Henderson, pressed for China to face punishment according to the law for the “negligent cover up” that created this catastrophe. “This is like a war,” he said, admitting that the financial loss will increase exponentially as the epidemic progresses. “There are some things you can quantify but others, the full costs, the emotional, and psychological costs, deaths and diseases, loss of career, disruption of education, family breakup,” he said, which have been unleashed on the world. “No one was prepared for it, because they didn’t give us time to be prepared.”
He and his co-author colleagues are asking for more than US$4 trillion in compensation and urging for united action by the world in the pursuit of answers. “How much willpower is there to take this forward?” He asked. “We find ourselves and society being corroded by a dreadful disease. What exactly is this Covid-19?” He asked. “How can we defend ourselves against it?” He protested China’s withholding of vital data depriving the world’s best scientists of a chance to examine the virus. “China won’t hand it over,” he complained.
There were moral issues at stake here too, he pointed out. China should be faced with its flagrant disregard for the international laws it itself is a signatory to. “There is a question of honor here.” He added: “Our opponents don’t believe in the law. They just use it arbitrarily to control their people.”
Mr Henderson despaired that China was getting away with flagrant international abuses, despite being a member of the UN. He asked why a Chinese official, for example, was recently appointed to a committee on human rights? “Something has gone badly wrong here,” he said.
He pressed for a coalition of countries to tackle China. “Just as with rugby, we must form a line and not let them pass,” he said.
First step: a pause in commercial dealings with China
Both Mr Henderson and Dr Mendoza urge a pause on dealings with China in a variety of fields as a result of the Covid-19 hiatus. “We have surrendered too much to China, says Mr Henderson. “It’s wake up time,” he says. “There is a great danger in hyper globalization with all routes leading to Chinese manufacturing. With countries not being able to control their own supply lines or produce materials domestically.” He cited its many downsides in terms of unemployment and deskilling of the national workforce. “Now we are seeing the repercussions of global trade during a pandemic. This is giving us pause for thought.”
Regarding future dealings with China over the 5G network, and the use of Huawei, Mr Henderson was adamant that national security should not be “bargained away.” He decried the fact that Europe was now “in hoc” to a “hostile power,” and dependent on China for its economic growth over the last few years. “This is clearly not sustainable,” he stressed, urging European states to look again at the source of their growth, and the protection of their “prized national assets.” He bemoaned the surrendering of intellectual property rights to China. “States like us live by what we invent, what we innovate, how we market that effectively and how we benefit from it. We’ve surrendered that as well,” he said.
Referring to China’s blatant disregard for internationally agreed treaties and agreements witnessed so clearly over Covid-19, he urged the G7 and its allies to “pool together in a corporate spirit” and devise a new set of policies. “We need to work out what kind of rules book we want to play by and how we respond to China when it refuses to do so?”
“It’s not about containment,” he stressed, “it’s about wake up time,” he said.
Pressure is mounting to call China to account over its handling of Covid-19. Only last weekend in the Mail on Sunday newspaper, the UK’s Downing Street admitted that China faces a “reckoning” over their handling of coronavirus and risks becoming a “pariah state,” with Boris Johnson facing pressure to “scrap the Huawei deal.”
Lawsuits in Florida and Texas have been filed worth $20 trillion dollars claiming the Wuhan virus is a “biological weapon of war” made in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
More suits are sure to follow.
Concluding its report, the members of the HJS emphasize that the rules-based international order places obligations on everybody, even though authoritarian states often act with impunity. “The Peoples’ Republic of China (PRC) is no exception to this rule. International law – in the form of Treaties, Covenants and Charters – places obligations on China, just as much as it does on the democracies of the West,” it stresses.