Earlier this year, the Henry Jackson Society (HJS) published ‘Coronavirus Compensation? Assessing China’s Potential Culpability and Avenues of Legal Response’ which sought to highlight the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) negligence in the early outbreak and catastrophic impact of COVID-19 on the rest of the world. Of course, since April 2020, when the report was being written-up, the spread, death toll, and economic impact of the virus have vastly increased.
Throughout the mid-part of 2020 large numbers of new Coronavirus cases were reported on a daily basis from all over the world. By late December global cases had passed 78 million and, more tragically still, claimed the lives of 1.7 million. This figure dwarfs the death toll on April 1, cited in ‘Coronavirus Compensation’. This should come as no surprise given the exponential growth of the virus. While it took six weeks for cases to climb from 10 million to 20 million, when the virus first started spreading around the globe, by the end of the year it only took half that time for cases to jump from 50 million to 60 million. This has forced governments across the world to take unprecedented steps to protect the public’s health.
The economic hit from COVID-19 has been much harder than first anticipated as countries, like the United Kingdom, have had to extend and re
-impose lockdown measures designed to contain the spread of the virus. This has hit the hospitality, leisure, and travel industries particularly hard. While consumer confidence, and thus their spending, has fallen alongside increases in unemployment. As this briefing will highlight global economic growth is expected to decline further than originally expected, according to forecasts from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Predictions of a global recession, matching if not exceeding the 2008 global financial crisis, appear not to have been hasty doom-mongering.
Looking back it is difficult to believe that the cause of all of this destruction and disaster emerged in Hubei Province, in the People’s Republic of China, just over a year ago. It is a point which should not be forgotten nor should we be fatalistic when looking back on this year’s events. As HJS’s original report makes clear the CPC failed to share critical information about the virus’s transmission with the outside world. Furthermore, leaked reports, published recently by CNN, give credence to the accusations of negligence in Hubei, amongst other criticisms, with discrepancies between official statistics and those publicised on a number of occasions from January to early March 2020.
This briefing follows from ‘Coronavirus Compensation’ with updated information on both China’s original concealment and the economic damage of the disease. In addition, it will update the report’s timeline to include new revelations from CNN’s ‘The Wuhan files’, additional information related to the disappearance of citizen journalists inside China, and key data milestones since the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) declaration of a Global Pandemic on 11 March 2020.