On Tuesday, at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing US lawmakers debated the topic. Senator Lindsey Graham from the Republican party and chairman of the committee said: “At what point in time do we need to put on the table new ideas to stop a recurring event: pandemics coming from China?
“Given the wilfulness, the deceit and the hard-heartedness, for lack of a better word, regarding the Chinese Communist Party’s handling of the coronavirus, I think now the time has come for us to put on the table new tools to deal with an old problem.”
He continued: “I cannot think of a more compelling idea than to allow individual Americans or groups of Americans to bring lawsuits against the culprit Chinese government for the damage done to their family, to our economy and to the psyche of the nation.”
During the hearing, senators from both political parties reportedly conveyed their anger towards China for the coronavirus pandemic.
They allegedly said China allowed what could have been a local virus outbreak to turn into a global pandemic which has killed nearly half a million people.
In the US, 123 thousand people have reportedly died from Covid-19.
Whereas in China, the total death toll for coronavirus is 4,634.
Senators from the Democratic party did add that the blame should not solely lie on China.
They accused President Donald Trump for not handling the pandemic well enough in America.
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Missouri and Mississippi have both pledged to sue China over the damages caused from the coronavirus pandemic.
Five other lawsuits have reportedly been filed against China in the past few weeks from Florida, California, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Texas.
During the hearing, the senators discussed whether suing China is the best way to hold the country to account.
Lynn Fitch, Mississippi’s attorney general said: “I believe this legal action is worth taking on behalf of the people of Mississippi.
“We cannot ignore what China did.”
However, according to the South China Morning Post, legal experts have said that none of the suits are likely to proceed into the trial phase because of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.
This law confirms that in order for a foreign country to be sued in a US court, they would have had to commit an act of terrorism, caused personal injury or death in the States, harmed American citizens through commercial activity or unlawfully captured the property of the America or US citizens.
The law was amended in 2016 to allow victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to sue Saudi Arabia.
New bills have been introduced in the House of Representatives and Senate.
If passed, they will amend the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act to allow US citizens to sue China over the coronavirus pandemic.