China will not submit to US lawsuits and legislation aimed at blaming Beijing for the coronavirus crisis, state media has warned, suggesting that counter-sanctions against officials and entire states are already in the works.
Numerous members of Congress and other officials will be put onto China’s sanctions list for their involvement in efforts to demonize China for its alleged responsibility for the pandemic, the Global Times reported, citing analysts.
The “painful” countermeasures will likely target Senator John Hawley, a Missouri Republican, who authored legislation in mid-April which would allow US citizens to sue the Chinese government for purportedly covering up the truth about Covid-19. His Senate colleague, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, as well as Texas Congressman Dan Crenshaw, introduced similar bills and are also potential targets for retaliatory sanctions.
Missouri’s Attorney General Eric Schmitt, who sued China on behalf of his state, is similarly in Beijing’s cross-hairs. US lawmakers pushing for “anti-China” legislation are undermining bilateral ties “for their own political benefit,” Yuan Zheng, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), told the Global Times. He argued that Beijing must “crack down” on such reckless actions.
We can’t just strike back symbolically, but should impose countermeasures that could make them feel the pain.
But the sanctions could be far more comprehensive. According to the Global Times, the entire state of Missouri could be punished for the actions of its lawmakers and government. The paper noted that China is the third-largest export destination for Missouri – meaning that hundreds of billions of dollars for the state could dry up if Beijing chooses to refuse the state’s goods and services.Yuan argued that China could take sweeping economic measures to target states that threaten Beijing with lawsuits.
He noted that several states – particularly Missouri – have long-term investments in China.Washington has been ratcheting up its campaign to blame Beijing for the global health crisis. The Covid-19 Accountability Act, introduced by Senator Lindsey Graham, threatens sanctions on China if it fails to cooperate with any US-led probe into the coronavirus pandemic. On the diplomatic front, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has repeatedly accused China of misleading the world about the virus – allegations which Beijing says are part of Pompeo’s “clown show” designed to deflect blame for his administration’s handling of the crisis.