Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the legal action has “no factual and legal basis at all” and repeated China’s defense of its response to the outbreak.
The ministry and other Chinese government departments have strenuously denied accusations that officials delayed reporting on the extent of the outbreak in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, despite reports that worries over political stability were placed above public health concerns.
Medical staff who reported the outbreak were silenced under threat of legal retaliation and Wuhan went several days without reporting cases during the holding of an annual provincial government conference..
“This so-called lawsuit is very absurd and has no factual and legal basis at all,” Geng said at a daily briefing.
Since the outbreak began, China has proceeded in an “open, transparent, and responsible manner” and the U.S. government should “dismiss such vexatious litigation,” he said.
Missouri’s top state prosecutor on Tuesday announced the lawsuit, which alleges that Chinese officials are to blame for the pandemic that has sickened around 2.5 million worldwide, thrown tens of millions out of work and devastated local economies, including in China.
Attorney General Eric Schmitt said the Chinese government lied about the dangers of the virus and didn’t do enough to slow its spread.
Missouri’s action is likely to be largely symbolic, however, since lawsuits against other countries typically don’t go anywhere because U.S. law generally prohibits them.
However, China owns billions of dollars’ worth of property and interests in the U.S., which could be seized in the event of a judgment against the communist nation.
According to Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering, the number of Missouri deaths from the virus rose by 16 Tuesday to 215.
Adapted from reporting by Associated Press.