Missouri became the first state to sue the Chinese government, citing "an appalling campaign of deceit" related to the coronavirus pandemic.
The civil lawsuit was filed Tuesday in federal court by GOP state Attorney General Eric Schmitt, claiming Chinese officials are “responsible for the enormous death, suffering, and economic losses they inflicted on the world, including Missourians.”
“The Chinese government lied to the world about the danger and contagious nature of COVID-19, silenced whistleblowers, and did little to stop the spread of the disease,” said Schmitt who is seeking damages.“They must be held accountable for their actions.”
Schmitt said Chinese officials and others, including laboratories and China's Communist Party, were all "engaged in misrepresentations, concealment, and retaliation to conceal the gravity and seriousness of the COVID-19 outbreak from the rest of the world."
Besides seeking damages, the lawsuit seeks to hold the Chinese government officially accountable for "An appalling campaign of deceit, concealment, misfeasance, and inaction by Chinese authorities unleashed this pandemic."
“During the critical weeks of the initial outbreak, Chinese authorities deceived the public, suppressed crucial information, arrested whistleblowers, denied human-to-human transmission in the face of mounting evidence, destroyed critical medical research, permitted millions of people to be exposed to the virus, and even hoarded personal protective equipment – thus causing a global pandemic that was unnecessary and preventable," the suit said.
Missouri's motion comes after nearly two dozen GOP lawmakers asked the Trump administration to move against China in the International Court of Justice on Monday. They say China violated the 2005 International Health Regulations by suppressing critical information about the outbreak, and disease.
The state of Mississippi will sue China over its handling of the coronavirus, Attorney General Lynn Fitch announced Wednesday.
"Too many Mississippians have suffered as a result of China’s cover-up," Fitch said in a statement, according to the Clarion-Ledger. "They must not be allowed to act with impunity. Mississippians deserve justice, and I will seek that in court."
The lawsuit seeks to ensure that China is held "accountable for the malicious and dangerous acts that caused death, health injuries, and serious economic loss from the COVID-19 crisis."
Earlier this week, Missouri was the first state in the United States to indicate it would seek to punish China for the pandemic.