By Zhong Sheng—For a long time, some American politicians and organizations, out of ulterior motives,
have stirred up trouble based on hearsay, knitting the conspiracy theory about the
origin of COVID-19 and trying to hold China accountable for the pandemic and claim
compensation from the country.
On May 12, Lindsey Graham, Chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary,
even introduced the so-called COVID-19 Accountability Act to instigate chaos again,
showing a total disregard for the law.
A major infectious disease outbreak is classified as a public health emergency as well
as a force majeure in terms of legal theories.
From the aspect of substantive law, the existing international legal system hasn’t
specified in any way that the country where a virus has been first discovered should
It is widely known that the virus came into being purely by accident and it is
obviously unfair to falsely accuse pandemic-hit regions and people and cause
According to procedural law, the principles of sovereign equality and immunity
indicate that the courts in one country have no right of jurisdiction over the sovereign
act of a foreign government to prevent and control the epidemic.
The Charter of the United Nations (UN) stipulates the principle of sovereign equality.
“Equals have no sovereignty over each other,” said the Roman law. The doctrine from
ancient Rome has formed the basis of state immunity in the course of history and been
supported by the judicial practice of the sovereign states nowadays.
A sovereign state is thus exempt from the jurisdiction of foreign national courts, a
right protected by the international law rather than a “gift” given by foreign
It should also be noted that the estoppel principle of the international law requires
countries to be consistent in applying the rules. As some U.S. politicians found no
legal grounds for butting in China’s anti-pandemic attempts, they didn’t simply give
To justify their accusations against China, they intend to amend the Foreign Sovereign
Immunities Act of the U.S., a commitment of the country to sovereign immunity.
Such a move will not only impair the logic and operation of the international law, but
trigger global sovereign litigation, causing chaos in the international legal system and
putting a strain on international relations.
Many legal experts in the world have made remarks to expose the true faces of some
U.S. officials behind such clumsy tricks.
Some American politicians have claimed that the novel coronavirus originates from a
lab in Wuhan, China, yet they fail to provide any evidence, said Lawrence Gostin,
Professor of Global Health Law at the Georgetown University of the U.S.
Facts should matter, instead of unfounded allegations made by some media and
individuals, noted Armin von Bogdandy, Director at the Max Planck Institute for
Comparative Public Law and International Law, adding that he disagrees that China
has to pay the damages.
Peter Hilpold, Austrian legal expert as well as Professor of International Law at the
University of Innsbruck in Austria, pointed out that the unconfirmed claims from the
U.S. has damaged China’s reputation and for this, China could also claim
compensation from America.
The law has to be based on evidence and facts. To find out the origin of the virus is a
serious scientific problem as well as a professional issue that needs to be tackled with
reason, which makes it necessary to listen to and respect the opinions of scientists and
There is a general consensus in the international scientific community that the novel
coronavirus is neither man-made nor genetically engineered.
With the further investigation and research into the virus, the pandemic turns out to
happen much earlier than people thought in many countries. Experts from the World
Health Organization (WHO) made it clear that the source of the virus couldn’t be
The joint statement of 27 well-known medical experts from 8 countries recently
published on The Lancet and Nature, both authoritative journals in the world, and the
reports released by professionals from America, Australia and Britain have also
confirmed that the virus wasn’t man-made.
Faced with such facts, some Americans have already become a laughingstock for their
embarrassing and untenable accusations.
Despite feeble arguments, some U.S. officials still refuse to halt the farce of trying to
hold China responsible and claim damages. It is evident that they are plotting to
politically blackmail China through the presumption of guilt.
Tom Ginsburg, Professor of International Law at the University of Chicago, pointed
out that many right-wing politicians in the U.S. are focusing on China’s problem to
whitewash their own mistakes.
Justice naturally inhabits a man’s heart. By falsely accusing China, the U.S. is openly
undermining international rule of law, which is meant to protect fairness and justice,
not to be used as a tool by some U.S. officials to politically blackmail other countries.
To quote an ancient Chinese saying, “Turn inward and examine yourself when you
encounter difficulties in life.” Amid the global epidemic, the U.S. government needs
to reflect on itself, give priority to safeguarding the life