A move by Rep. Christopher Smith (R-Hamilton) to permit U.S. citizens to sue the Chinese government for its lack of transparency during the coronavirus pandemic is expected to get a recorded vote on Tuesday.
Smith has proposed an amendment to the Ensuring American Global Leadership and Engagement (EAGLE) Act that seeks to hold the Chinese Communist Party – and other foreign governments — accountable for misrepresenting Covid data to the World Heath Organization (WHO).
“Knowing that Xi Jinping and his government systematically failed to be truthful and transparent, my amendment seeks to not only gain access to more information but also provide much-needed relief to the loved ones of those who died and others who have suffered severe economic loss during the pandemic,” said Smith.
The Smith amendment would waive the Foreign Immunities Act so that Americans could seek monetary damages for personal injury, death or property loss if China were found to have misrepresented facts about COVID-19.
The Smith amendment, which will be considered by the House Foreign Affairs Committee, mirrors a 2016 law that permitted families of Americans who died in the September 11, 2011 terrorist attacks to sue the government of Saudi Arabia. Congress overrode President Obama’s veto.
“Justice delayed is justice denied,” said Smith, the second-ranking Republican on the committee. “We must get to the truth about what happened and those who were involved to bring justice to those who suffered greatly. Besides damages paid to those individuals who have endured so much pain and loss, my amendment can bring discovery and the opportunity in court to ask probing questions that will hopefully lead to answers and help prevent this type of behavior in the future.”
Smith is also moving to amend the EAGLE Act to force the Biden administration to work out an alternate plan for the 2022 Olympic games currently scheduled to be held in Beijing in opposition to China’s human rights policies.
“To think that Xi Jinping would be welcoming athletes and spectators while simultaneously butchering the people of Xinjiang is unconscionable,” stated Smith. “A change in venue is possible if there is a political will by the international community for it, and we must insist upon it.”
Four New Jersey congressmen serve on the committee: Reps. Albio Sires (D-West New York), Andy Kim (D-Moorestown) , Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes) and Smith.