Pressures on Britain to sue China for £351bn coronavirus compensation

There are emerging pressures on Britain to sue China at the international courts for £351 billion   compensation for the damages caused by coronavirus infection to the health and economy of the United Kingdom. A major study on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic showed that the damages suffered by countries of the world would have been averted or reduced if China had given the right information on coronavirus at the inchoate stage of the outbreak in Wuhan, mainland China in December 2019.

The Report, coordinated by Henry Jackson Society, a British foreign policy think-tank, concluded that “there is evidence that China directly breached international healthcare treaty responsibilities.” It, therefore, recommended 10 legal channels countries of the world that suffered from the coronavirus pandemic could use to seek compensation for damages from China. The Report will be published this week.

Britain is a member of the G7 which economies lost £3.2 trillion to the coronavirus pandemic. Britain is claiming compensation for full cost of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s economic bailout and increase in National Health Scheme (NHS) expenditure in the struggle to curtail the pandemic.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is also indicted for purported alliance with China to give misinformation on coronavirus to countries of the world which influenced early decisions and preparations to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Apparently, the misinformation scuttled British policy on the health hazards brought by coronavirus.

Some of the early decisions that were withheld based on information from China include delay in cancellation of flights from London to Wuhan in January.  Thus, the space was wide open for importation of coronavirus from China into Britain, which would have been avoided with the right information from Beijing.

The report titled “Coronavirus Compensation: Assessing China’s potential culpability and avenues of legal response’ and concludes: “The CCP (Chinese Communist Party) sought to conceal bad news at the top, and to conceal bad news from the outside world”, is the first comprehensive investigation into the ravaging coronavirus in the world.

It concluded that, “The truth is that China is responsible for Covid-19 – and if legal claims were brought against Beijing they could amount to trillions of pounds.”

It identified the following legal processes for compensation from China – filing of suit at the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague against China for breaking sanitary commitments; approaching the United Nations (UN), International Court of Justice (ICJ) or the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Furthermore, 15 senior Tories led by former Deputy Prime Minister, Damian Green, have written to the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, demanding a “rethink and a reset” in Britain’s bilateral diplomatic relations with China.

The 15 Tories comprise of four former Cabinet Ministers and 11 other Conservative MPs. In their letter to the Prime Minister, they accused China of international breaches, urging Johnson to consider “rethink and reset” in diplomatic relations with China.

Green and the former Ministers – Iain Duncan Smith, David Davis and Owen Paterson, protested the damage to the global systemic rules caused by the non-compliance with international treaties by China on the coronavirus crisis. They argued that “Legally binding international healthcare regulations require states to provide full information on all potential pandemics. It appears likely that in its early response to the outbreak, China uphold its obligations.”

They declared in the letter: “Legally binding international healthcare regulations require states to provide full information on all potential pandemics. It appears likely that in its early response to the outbreak, the Chinese uphold its obligations.

“This omission allowed the disease to spread throughout the world with extraordinarily serious consequences in terms of global health and the economy. The cost to the UK may be, as a Henry Jackson Society report now suggests, over £350 billion.”

They, therefore, advocated: “Once the crisis has passed, we urge the Government to rethink our wider relationship with China.”

They decried: “Over time, we have allowed ourselves to grow dependent on China and have failed to take a strategic view of Britain’s long-term economic, technical and security needs.”

Moreover, one of the signatories to the letter, Bob Seely, a member of the Commons select committee on foreign affairs, at the weekend advocated: “Once we are through this crisis, we need to reassess our ability to deal with non-traditional threats to our society, be they economic, political or, in this case, a pandemic. We can’t go through this shock again without being better prepared.”

Meanwhile, China through its Embassy in London, commenced campaign to counter the accusations.

While the international system is becoming heated up against China over the spread of coronavirus across the world, Nigerian government is deepening romance with the infectious China, concluding arrangements to import Chinese ventilators and medical officers.