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China labels Missouri lawsuit over coronavirus outbreak 'very absurd'

China labels Missouri lawsuit over coronavirus outbreak 'very absurd'
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China is firing back against a lawsuit Missouri brought earlier this week over Beijing's handling of the novel coronavirus outbreak, which was first detected in Wuhan, China, last year and has left more than 45,000 people dead across the United States so far.

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang called the suit “very absurd” during a briefing on Wednesday, The Associated Press reported, and added the move has “no factual and legal basis at all.” He also reportedly claimed that China was “open, transparent and responsible” in its response to the outbreak and called on the Trump administration to “dismiss such vexatious litigation.”

His comment arrives on the heels of a lawsuit that was filed by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt (R) on Tuesday. The state accuses Beijing of lying about the danger the coronavirus posed to the world when it first detected the outbreak in December and is seeking damages for the “enormous loss of life, human suffering, and economic turmoil” brought on by the pandemic. 

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“COVID-19 has done irreparable damage to countries across the globe, causing sickness, death, economic disruption, and human suffering,” Schmitt said in a statement announcing the suit. “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. They must be held accountable for their actions.”

Missouri alleges that China had significant evidence of the infectivity of the coronavirus back in December but did little to contain the outbreak. It also called out the country over its alleged concealment of evidence and research pertaining to the outbreak.

“During the critical weeks of the initial outbreak, Chinese authorities deceived the public, suppressed crucial information, arrested whistleblowers, denied human-to-human transmission in the face of mounting evidence, destroyed critical medical research, permitted millions of people to be exposed to the virus, and even hoarded personal protective equipment — thus causing a global pandemic that was unnecessary and preventable,” its suit states.

The suit also notes the impact the outbreak has specifically had on Missouri, which has reported more than 6,200 cases of the virus as well as more than 200 deaths, and its economy.

In a statement responding to the lawsuit on Tuesday, Geng told Fox News that the "international community can overcome the virus only if it can stay united and cooperate to make concerted efforts."

“Attacking and discrediting other countries simply wastes time and cannot save lost lives," he added.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives has also offered a resolution condemning China over its response to the outbreak.