Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton: Legislation Would Allow Americans To Sue China For Mishandling Coronavirus

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David Krayden Ottawa Bureau Chief
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Republican Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton said Friday that he has introduced legislation that would allow victims of the coronavirus pandemic to sue Chinese officials.

“With legislation I have introduced with [Republican Texas Rep.] Dan Crenshaw it will be possible. It amends the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act which allows foreign officials to be sued in our courts,” Cotton told “Fox & Friends.”

“This is exactly what Congress did for the victims of 9/11. We should do it for the victims of this pandemic … There are a lot of other things we can do as well,” Cotton continued, noting that the federal government can revoke Chinese visas for the children of oligarchs “who are studying in advanced scientific computer science and other kinds of technological fields.” (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Tom Cotton Blasts ‘Apologists’ In Media For Accepting Chinese Propaganda Surrounding Coronavirus Origins)

The senator suggested a long-term strategy would be “bringing back more of our manufacturing capacity, so we create jobs here [in the United States].”

When asked if it was a politically viable option to punish China for its role in the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Cotton acknowledged that America has allowed China to control vital segments of the pharmaceutical industry.

“Sadly, we are in a situation where China does have the market cornered on things like masks and gloves and other medical supplies. Even on some of the components for testing. And just this week it was reported that China is withholding a lot of that medical equipment from the United States on spurious grounds.”

As a result, the senator suggested caution when proceeding with any legal or economic battle with China. “So obviously we don’t want to rush into this change. We don’t want to say that we are going to put import bans on Chinese goods in place next week because we have to have those goods now to protect our doctors and our nurses and all the people struggling with this virus.” (Sen. Tom Cotton Calls Democrats’ Holding Coronavirus Bill Hostage For Climate Change And Other Liberal Dreams A ‘Disgrace’)

Cotton repeated his belief that action against China must be a long-term project. “We also have to begin to plan for how we are not going to be dependent on China in the future because this cannot be allowed to ever happen again.”

A woman wearing protective gear adjusts her glasses in Wuhan, Hubei province, the epicentre of China's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, March 30, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song

A woman wearing protective gear adjusts her glasses in Wuhan, Hubei province, the epicentre of China’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, March 30, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song

Fox News senior legal analyst Andrew Napolitano has also argued that Americans can file class action suits against Chinese companies that are owned or controlled by the ruling Communist Party.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has accused China of being responsible for global “suffering” for its mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak. Critics accuse China of covering up evidence and testimony related to the coronavirus after the sickness broke out in the city of Wuhan.

Republican Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley introduced similar legislation on Tuesday, the Justice for Victims of COVID-19 Act. In a telephone call with the Daily Caller, Hawley’s office explained that “the bill would strip China of its sovereign immunity and create a private right of action against the CCP for reckless actions like silencing whistleblowers and withholding critical information about COVID-19.”

“There is overwhelming evidence that the Chinese Communist Party’s lies, deceit, and incompetence caused COVID-19 to transform from a local disease outbreak into a global pandemic,” said Hawley.

Some have argued that suing China is likely to be a legally unproductive endeavor, as well as something that could also fuel “xenophobia” and “racism against individuals of Asian descent.”