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It’s clear the Chinese Communist Party is to blame for the coronavirus pandemic that’s killing thousands of our fellow citizens every day. Late last week we introduced legislation that would hold the party accountable for the physical and economic injury it has inflicted on millions of Americans.
Our legislation is simple but effective. It would allow Americans to sue China in U.S. federal courts in order to "recover damages for death, injury, and economic harm caused" by China’s reckless and reprehensible response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Americans are currently barred from filing such claims under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which forbids lawsuits against foreign sovereign nations, save in rare instances. Our legislation would carve out a limited exception for physical and economic injuries resulting from COVID-19 and acts “intended to deliberately conceal or distort the nature or existence of COVID-19.”
Our bill gives China the opportunity to resolve its claims with the U.S. government out of court. However, if no settlement is reached China will face the possibility of millions of private claims from Americans who’ve been harmed by the coronavirus.
Some may argue that the link between China’s misdeeds and the injuries suffered by millions of Americans are too tenuous to be sustained in court. But the stream of revelations about China’s deliberate misinformation and cover-up regarding the coronavirus outbreak that began in Wuhan, China make its role in this pandemic clear.
Beginning in late December, Chinese physicians – such as the late Dr. Li Wenliang – were silenced and “disappeared” for daring to expose the dangers of the coronavirus. Virus samples from Chinese laboratories were destroyed en masse to thwart research into the virus’s origins and characteristics.
Data on coronavirus infections and deaths across China was manipulated or underreported in order to hide the seriousness of COVID-19. Western journalists covering the pandemic were expelled from China for made-up offenses.
In short, China engaged in a massive and inexcusable cover-up that has brought unimaginable suffering to the American people. Americans deserve justice.
The Chinese Communist Party unleashed this plague on the world through its cover-ups and deception, resulting in untold death and economic destruction.
Indeed, China’s despicable actions were designed to purposely mislead our government and weaken our response, and Americans suffered significant losses as a result. A thorough investigation into China’s cover-up will undoubtedly strengthen this connection and provide more evidence that can be used in court against the Chinese Communist Party.
Others may argue that our bill would inundate federal courts with claims. This is a reasonable concern, insofar as millions of Americans have been harmed by the Chinese Communist Party’s actions. This is why our legislation channels all associated claims to just four federal district courts and one federal appellate court that have proven they are capable of managing large caseloads.
Limiting jurisdiction in this way will ensure more consistent adjudication across the board, relieve potential pressure on state courts, and avoid a “patchwork” of outcomes that favor some plaintiffs while disadvantaging others.
Although one of the primary purposes of tort litigation is to make injured parties “whole,” we recognize no amount of financial compensation can heal the wounds caused by this virus.
Money alone can’t alleviate the pain of losing a loved one or revive a business that took years to build. Our hope, however, is that this bill will give suffering Americans a modicum of relief and genuine justice.
Chinese Communist Party Chairman Xi Jinping’s government rules by law but ignores justice. America uses the rule of law to attain justice. Our bill would harness the great strength of our criminal justice system to ensure the Chinese Communist Party is held accountable for its crimes.
The Chinese Communist Party unleashed this plague on the world through its cover-ups and deception, resulting in untold death and economic destruction. Its officials should feel the full weight of the American justice system.
Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, served as a Navy SEAL for a decade and retired as a lieutenant commander. He lost his right eye after being wounded in Afghanistan in 2012. He is the author of "Fortitude: American Resilience in the Era of Outrage.”