China Says Missouri Coronavirus Lawsuit Is 'Nothing Short of Absurdity'

A Chinese official has dismissed a lawsuit against the country filed by the state of Missouri and called on the U.S. to reject such an "abuse" of litigation.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang told reporters Wednesday that the Missouri lawsuit—accusing China of not doing enough to warn of and stop the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak—is "nothing short of absurdity.

"Such abuse of litigation is not conducive to the epidemic response at home in the United States and also runs counter to international cooperation," Geng told the briefing. He added that China's response to the virus is not under the jurisdiction of U.S. courts so the lawsuit was irrelevant.

"What the United States should do is refute and reject such abuse of litigation," Geng argued.

Eric Schmitt, Missouri's Republican attorney general, issued a statement Tuesday noting the decision to bring action against the Chinese government. "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," Schmitt alleged. "They must be held accountable for their actions."

Schmitt claimed that the Chinese government is "responsible for the enormous death, suffering, and economic losses they inflicted on the world, including Missourians."

President Donald Trump and Secretary Mike Pompeo are among those who have accused China of initially covering up the severity of the coronavirus outbreak. The president said the world "is paying a very big price" for Chinese inaction, and that the virus "could have been stopped right where it came from: China."

Local officials in Wuhan—where the virus was first identified—are accused of failing to report warnings from doctors treating the first patients, while President Xi Jinping delayed notifying Chinese people of the threat even as millions traveled at home and abroad in the lead up to Lunar New Year.

Chinese officials have dismissed the accusations as a Trumpian effort to shift attention from the U.S.' own poor handling of the outbreak. The U.S. has recorded the most infections and deaths of any nation—currently 826,065 and 45,075, respectively, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Chinese state media has led Beijing's attacks on the U.S. On Wednesday, the China Daily newspaper—owned by the Chinese Communist Party's propaganda department—published an op-ed by Zhu Weidong of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, accusing Western politicians and lawyers of "ignoring facts and laws."

Zhu suggested that those accusing China "need to reflect on what they have done for their country and their fellow citizens, rather than blaming other countries for their own failures."

China, coronavirus, Missouri, lawsuit, compensation
This file photo shows protesters holding signs demanding the end of coronavirus lockdown measures on April 20, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. Jamie Squire/Getty Images/Getty