April 5, 2020 — 10.41am
London: China should be sued under international law for trillions of dollars for its initial cover-up of the coronavirus pandemic which has caused more than 60,000 deaths and trillions of dollars in economic damage, a new report says.
The report said damages should be for at least the £3.2 ($6.5 trillion) being spent by G7 nations propping up their domestic economies as governments forced their citizens to stay at home so they could try and contain the disease’s spread.
And it singled out Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s unprecedented $130 billion in government support for workers and businesses, saying Australians too were owed at least that amount in compensation.
Senior Chinese figures, including China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian have endorsed speculative and groundless claims that the virus was imported to Wuhan by the United States military, instead of emerging at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, where wild, live animals were traded.
According to the report, Coronavirus Compensation? by conservative London think tank The Henry Jackson Society, China could be sued under 10 possible legal avenues, including the International Health Regulations, which were beefed up after the SARS outbreak, which China also tried to cover up.
The report said had China provided accurate information at an early juncture, “the infection would not have left China.”
China only reported the disease to the WHO on December 31 and said there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission.
The International Health Regulations says nations must monitor and share data related to the spread, severity, and transmission of any pathogens that are potentially transmissible internationally.
The Henry Jackson Society said China had done the opposite, by covering up data and punishing doctors who sought to tell the truth.
It urged a coalition of countries to launch joint-action because of China’s record of “responding aggressively to threats on the world stage.”
“Taking action would require both courage and global solidarity,” the report said.
“In its early response, Wuhan and Hubei breached [International Health] Regulations…responsibility goes to the top of the regime.
CORONAVIRUS | China has broken its silence over repeated claims from the Trump administration that Beijing has not been honest with the world over the spread of the coronavirus which has now infected more than a million people and taken over 52,000 lives.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying has returned fire at top US officials, saying like Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying “these comments by those US politicians are just shameless and morally repulsive.”
“They should abandon such politicising of public health issues. This is just immoral and inhuman – and will be denounced by people all around the world.”
Hua’s response to a query from Bloomberg yesterday which cited three US intelligence officials claiming that China concealed the extent of the virus, under-reporting both total cases and deaths, was highlighted this morning by China’s Embassy in Kuala Lumpur with the hashtags #SomeInTheUSAreTryingSoHardToShiftTheBlame and #StopSeekingExcusesAndScapegoatsForPoorResponse.
“China has been giving open, transparent and timely updates to the world. On international public health security, we should listen to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and experts on epidemiology and disease control rather than several politicians who are habitual liars,” said Hua.
She said that on Wednesday a senior WHO official refuted accusations on “China’s untransparent data” in a press conference in Geneva.
“We sympathise with the US people as they are facing a severe situation, and I can imagine why some in the US are trying so hard to shift the blame.”
The virus which originated in China’s Hubei province has now infected more than 240,000 Americans and claimed more than 5,000 lives there.
“We don’t want to get into any meaningless argument with them but in response to their endless, immoral slanders, I feel I have no choice but to take a few moments to clarify the truth once again,” said Hua yesterday.
“It is true that Wuhan was where Covid-19 cases were first reported. But where and when exactly did this virus originate?
“We read many recent reports and findings on that. There are articles written by medical professionals from Italy, the UK, the US, Australia and other countries, which are published in top academic journals including Nature Medicine.”
“On the origin of the virus, the Chinese government’s position has been consistent. It is a serious matter that requires scientific, fact-based and professional assessment made by experts,” said Hua.
“China invited WHO experts to visit Wuhan as part of a joint mission. As some in the US are so obsessed with the issue, we advise the US side to also invite WHO and international experts to visit the country and find out the truth.
- April 2, 2020
WASHINGTON — The C.I.A. has been warning the White House since at least early February that China has vastly understated its coronavirus infections and that its count could not be relied upon as the United States compiles predictive models to fight the virus, according to current and former intelligence officials.
The intelligence briefings in recent weeks, based at least in part on information from C.I.A. assets in China, played an important role in President Trump’s negotiation on Thursday of an apparent détente with President Xi Jinping of China. Since then, both countries have ratcheted back criticism of each other.
Obtaining a more accurate count of the Chinese rate of infection and deaths from the virus has worldwide public health implications at a time of grave uncertainty over the virus, its speed of transmission and other fundamental questions. For American officials, the totals are critical to getting a better understanding of how Covid-19 will affect the United States in the months to come and of the effectiveness of countermeasures like social distancing, according to American intelligence agencies and White House officials.
So far, to the frustration of both the White House and the intelligence community, the agencies have been unable to glean more accurate numbers through their collection efforts.
But American intelligence agencies have concluded that the Chinese government itself does not know the extent of the virus and is as blind as the rest of the world. Midlevel bureaucrats in the city of Wuhan, where the virus originated, and elsewhere in China have been lying about infection rates, testing and death counts, fearful that if they report numbers that are too high they will be punished, lose their position or worse, current and former intelligence officials said.
Bureaucratic misreporting is a chronic problem for any government, but it has grown worse in China as the Communist leadership has taken a more authoritarian turn in recent years under Mr. Xi.
The American intelligence about understated numbers predates recent reporting in the Chinese news media that the death count in Wuhan could be 5,000 or more, double the official number. Intelligence officers have not verified the press reports and have left them out of their reports, according to people briefed on their work.
American officials cautioned that even with their own sourcing, many of the intelligence agencies’ warnings to the White House since the beginning of the outbreak have hewed relatively close to reports from journalists, who have been aggressively reporting on the coronavirus outbreak in China and the Chinese government’s efforts to suppress reporting about its spread.
Chinese diplomats have spread disinformation, including false reports that the virus originated from a United States Army lab and other conspiracy theories. Mr. Trump has retaliated by referring to Covid-19 as “the Chinese virus,” and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo derailed an international communiqué in an effort to label the disease as coming from China.
But after the call between Mr. Xi and Mr. Trump last week, an uneasy peace took hold. While the Chinese media has continued to spread conspiracy theories, the most prominent Chinese diplomats have tempered their comments.
Mr. Trump, too, has toned down his harsh language. Asked about intelligence reports that China had misreported the virus’s damage, Mr. Trump suggested he may have discussed the matter with Mr. Xi.