06:39 GMT25 October 2020
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    The US state of Missouri has announced its intentions to file a lawsuit against the Chinese government over its handling of the coronavirus.

    Dylan Loh, an assistant professor of public policy and global affairs at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore gave his views on whether any legal challenge against President Xi’s administration is likely to be successful, and how the coronavirus pandemic will affect both economic and political relations between China and the west going forward.

    Sputnik: Will any potential attempts to sue the Chinese government for its initial handling of the coronavirus outbreak be successful?

    Dylan Loh: As it stands, it doesn’t really carry a lot of legal weight, because we have to remember that the US themselves have a law preventing, or rather granting immunity to sovereign actors, and China clearly falls under the category of a sovereign entity.

    It seems to me that this is more of a political move rather than a serious attempt at extracting certain damages from or punishing China, but of course on the other hand; we should not, of course, dismiss it entirely, as radical as it sounds right now because as far as I know there are two Republic members of the US Congress who are attempting to introduce legislation to strip China of this immunity.

    I don’t think that it will pass, but there are these kinds of moves being made, but I don’t think that it stands on a legal point of view.

    Sputnik: How will China’s relations with the west develop in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic?

    Dylan Loh: I think that the coronavirus situation could have been the perfect example of co-operation and multilateralism, but unfortunately what we are seeing is an intensification of competition between the major powers.

    This doesn’t bode well of course for the rest of the world, and for the foreseeable future. I hope for the rest of the world that the US and China co-operate, but as things stand; I don’t think I am very optimistic, and I think that in fact because of this coronavirus situation insults have been traded, but not just at a political level, it is what people are feeling at a societal level as well, and I think that this will continue to intensify, unfortunately.

    Sputnik: Has the Trump administration been unfairly deflecting blame onto China to cover up their poor handling of the coronavirus pandemic domestically?

    Dylan Loh: The way that the Trump administration has handled the coronavirus outbreak has been less than stellar, and it’s not been helped of course by many other states taking action that sometimes contradicts what the administration is saying.

    There is certainly that aspect there, but whether or not that some of the grievances that they have raised in terms of the mishandling of the initial outbreak, and how there is a lab, which borders on a conspiracy theory there, holds any water remains to be seen.

    I think that both China and the US have attempted to deflect the blame on each other to a certain extent.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    coronavirus, COVID-19, legal, U.S, Missouri
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