And so it begins. Lawyers from the US have launched a landmark legal action lawsuit against China and they aren’t alone and it isn’t small numbers. The lawsuit is for trillions of dollars over the pandemic crisis and is accusing the communist leaders of negligence for allowing the pandemic to start in the first place. At the same time accusations have been levied at China for attempting to cover it all up.
The full lawsuit involves thousands of people as a class action with claimants coming from over 40 countries including Great Britain and the USA with the filing originating in Florida, USA. I can’t say I am surprised by this and neither I’m sure will be many others.
This will be the first of many lawsuits and it won’t be just class actions. There will almost certainly follow Governmental requests for compensation. Another is in the pipeline from Israel where human rights lawyers are completing putting their case together. They are specialists in suing states for terrorism so we can all work out what kind of lawsuit they are putting together. It does mean that President Xi Jinping will be under ever increasing pressure to give a full account for China’s actions. I wonder how far the rest of the world will get in receiving answers to these questions?
Germany has sent a GBP 130 trillion bill to China for “coronavirus damages” which has naturally lit a candle under the fury that has arisen out of Beijing. You can top that off with a call on the United Nations from Great Britain to set up an enquiry to establish how the Covid-19 broke out in the city of Wuhan and spread so quickly.
Government officials are suggesting that it will NOT be a return to normal after this has settled. The UK Secretary, Dominic Raab stated that it could not be “business as usual” after the crisis and this sentiment is carried around the world by almost all other nations. What is coming to China on the world stage is not going to be pretty for sure. Dominic Raab also said that “We will have to ask the hard questions about how it came about and how it could have been stopped earlier”.
It seems to be getting clearer from the accusations that China has plenty to explain including suppressing data, why it blocked a number of health agencies from entering and seeing for themselves what was occurring and why were certain Doctors silenced when trying to warn the outside world of the epidemic. All good and reasonable challenges and it has to be a game changer on the world stage. Nothing like this has ever been witnessed before and Governments can not simply sit back and ignore this any longer. It will come in the form of a change in business lines, possibly sanctions/tariffs and other methods to recuperate losses.
In the UK, 75% of people asked in a poll believed that the Chinese Communist Party should be held responsible for compensation and that further manifested itself with only 25% of the same people asked believing that the Chinese tech giant Huawei, should have any role in building the UK’s 5G network. The backlash is clearly beginning to show itself in China’s businesses and how people regard them.
One question that some may have already decided for themselves on, but absolutely needs to be answered, is where exactly did the virus come from? Was it a wet market selling live exotic animals or was it manufactured in a lab? The conspiracy theorists will love this one but there is a growing sense that there may actually be some legs in this theory and slowly, supporting evidence is creeping out to uphold this as a possible reality.
This is not the first rodeo for Berman Law Group which have launched the lawsuit out of Miami. Jeremy Alters, the chief strategist explained that China’s leaders must be held accountable and responsible for their actions. Three years ago, Berman won a $1.2 billion case against China over a lawsuit that accused China of using defective building materials. Chump change compared to the trillion USD lawsuit now being brought to the courts.
One issue with this is that nations in general have immunity. However, there are exceptions to these rules. Under US law, no immunity exists where personal or property damages are caused and for actions abroad that impact businesses in their own borders. And that is very clear cut. The damage to business alone is an unimaginable number around the world. Think of every stimulus package around the world that has been implemented and that will be attempted to be claimed back. The US alone started with a $2.3 trillion package!
Some of the plaintiffs in the US filed lawsuit include Olivier Babylone, 38, an estate agent from Croydon, South London, whose income has fallen by 2/3rds and who was hospitalised earlier this month. He stated that he had been financially hurt but that many has indeed lost their lives so he regarded himself lucky.
Another joining him in the class action is Lorraine Caggiano, an administrator from New York who also contracted the virus along with 9 other members of her family after attending a wedding. Sadly, 2 members of her family passed away from the disease including her Father and Auntie. She said, “I am not expecting money. It is a symbolic gesture that we are fighting back. I want to know how the world has been turned on its head, with people dying and companies going down the drain. We must make sure it never happens again.”
Shurat HaDin, an Israeli lawsuit that represents victims of terrorism will probably submit its lawsuit through US courts as quite frankly they are scared of China’s economic weight. And therein, lies the biggest problem to all of this. How much of this will actually get answered and to what degree will China actually be held responsible considering their clout on the world stage? I am of the opinion this needs to be side-lined. If China wishes to truly be a part of the world stage, then act accordingly! Help the world understand what exactly happened. And if it does turn out anything un-towards has occurred. Well, that is a whole different story…
The main arguing point here will be that China’s negligence in all of this has been of such a reckless nature and so bad that, as with terrorism, they should not be able to hide behind their sovereign immunity. If proven, you can just imagine the catastrophe this would be for China.
The first step is probably to ascertain on how and where Covid-19 exactly started. A British Human Rights Lawyer, Geoffrey Robertson has called for the United Nations to set up an enquiry to discover this. With claims that the World Health Organisation failed in its duty by embarrassingly swallowing everything China fed it has left it wide open to accusations and hence the removal of funding by Trump. Mr Robertson who is a former UN appeal judge himself said that the consequences of not tackling the virus had been calamitous. His opinion is that this occurred because facts were distorted by propaganda and political point scoring. On this I agree with him completely.
He said, “Our international well-being demands an independent and objective report into this disaster”. Whether we get it remains to be seen. But he also added, “Britain should use its influence as a permanent UN Security Council member to urge a formal inquiry, forcing the WHO and China to co-operate”. It is only with pressure at these levels any answers will ever be found and even then, I am not yet convinced.
Does the UN actually have the guts? If there has even been a time to take action, this is it. If nothing is done then it leaves it open for China to just steamroll over anything it wishes to in the future.
Words by Lawrence Young | The opinions expressed here are his own. The Vietnam Insider is not responsible for the opinions, facts or any media content presented by contributors
Lawrence Young (firstname.lastname@example.org) works for Holborn Group, he is now based in Vietnam office. His areas of expertise lie in personal, lump sum or regular monthly premium tax free savings structures, global investment property, higher education fee planning, inheritance tax issues, frozen and open pension planning through ROPS or SIPP’s, life and general insurance, will writing services and offshore company formation and banking.