tirsdag 24. mars 2020

No, China Can't Be Sued Over Coronavirus

I wish I could join the groundswell of opinion demanding that China be held liable for allowing the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 to get out of control. The drumbeat includes, for example, a class action lawsuit filed in Florida last week and the argument that we should treat the outbreak as we would an act of terrorism, because under U.S. law, a country that sponsors terror can’t claim sovereign immunity.

But I cannot. If you want to argue that the government of China has behaved irresponsibly, that the country’s officials deserve the condemnation of the world for letting the novel coronavirus escape when early action could have kept it under reasonable control, you’ll get no argument from me. The Chinese authorities have chosen denial, censorship and bluster rather than the transparency that might have saved lives. The regime’s transmission of patently false information has made matters worse. Legal liability, however, is another matter. The government of China is protected by the doctrine of sovereign immunity, and the regime’s undoubted misconduct does not constitute sufficient grounds for a waiver.