COVID-19: World wants China to pay up for its negligence

Chinese President Xi Jinping

In less than four months since the outbreak of the deadly Novel Coronavirus, over three million people have tested positive and over 200,000 people have died fighting this virus.

Presently, over half of humanity is in a state of lockdown and the global economy is heading towards a recession. Nations and private entities have lost trillions of dollars due to this forced lockdown that has been enforced to curb the rising number of cases.

In such a situation it is only natural for countries to ask China to be compensated for their losses.

But why China?

It has been well established now that the nation is being wilfully negligent in its conduct.

Also Read: COVID-19|Race against time as countries try to develop vaccines

An early warning in the month of December could have itself warned the world and prepared it better to tackle the virus. However, China continued to hide their crimes.

With over USD 3 trillion, China after years of currency manipulations is sitting on massive Forex reserves and can compensate nations for its negligence. Nations can also enforce it unilaterally.

Some nations and entities are already in the process making China pay. Let’s take a look at how nations are trying to hold China accountable: 

USA

President Donald Trump has been at the forefront and has repeatedly said that China will pay for its crimes. He said that the US could be looking at sanctions or some sort of trade embargo to punish China.

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US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping

Already many lawsuits have been filed in the US against China. Missouri, Mississippi, and Florida have seen common citizens filing class-action suits against the People’s Republic of China.

Last week, two senators introduced the Stop China Originated Viral Infectious Diseases (COVID) Act. This legislation once passed will allow US citizens to freely sue the Chinese authorities.

In 2019, the US had hit China with travel bans and trade embargoes due to their uncivilized conduct in Hong Kong and Xinjiang. A similar move could follow.

China has reacted strongly and has dismissed these charges.

Germany

Though the government has dismissed the idea of seeking compensation from China, this hasn’t dampened the spirits of the German newspaper ‘Bild’ which has claimed 150 billion Euros from Beijing.

It has listed out the financial losses caused to different sectors in Germany:

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel

German Tourism- 27 billion euros

Film Industry- 7.2 billion euros

Small businesses- 50 billion euros

Lufthansa- 1 million euros/ hour.

The Chinese Embassy in Berlin has been cautious and has warned against xenophobic acts which can destabilize China-Germany relations.

Many other nations such as Australia have demanded the same. However, not many details are known.

Here are some other claims:

Mumbai based lawyer Ashish Sohani has sued China and claimed that China owes India a sum of USD 2.5 trillion for all the economic and social damages that have been unleashed against India.

Further, he has sued China at the International Criminal Court in Hague and said that Chinese President Xi Jinping along with four others should be tried as war criminals for their crimes against humanity. This court has been established by the Rome Statute and India isn’t a party to the treaty.

A report prepared by the Henry Jackson Society in the UK said that just the G-7 nations could sue China for 3.2 trillion British pounds. The report details all the points why China should compensate other nations.

Do these claims have any value?

Though international law is changing, it is still the domain of sovereign nations. Even then no amount of compensation can be demanded. What can happen is that those nations get together and levy sanctions and embargoes on China which is heavily dependent on trade for its growth.

However, these class-action suits and media articles will build pressure on governments to act against China.

For example, a simple act by India to tweak its FDI rules to prevent a predatory takeover of Indian firms during Covid-19 induced economic crisis, resulted in China complaining that it was against the WTO principles.

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