Covid-19: A Call For $50bn Reparation From China

Covid-19: A Call For $50bn Reparation From China

Saturday, August 15, 2020 9:14 pm


•President Muhammadu Buhari: Urged to demand reparation

 

By Soyombo Opeyemi

China cannot live while the world dies. If maximum compensation is not exacted from China for corona virus pandemic, it’s only a matter of time! In the next one or two decades, another infectious disease will break out from China and bring the world to its knees once again!

It’s high time the China’s blight was removed from humanity. There is so little to choose between World War II and corona virus plague. The distinction is of no moment. Whether the lethal weapon was deployed through machine guns, armoured tanks, scud missiles, intercontinental ballistic missiles or the bomb came from a market or laboratory in Wuhan, China, the consequences are the same for humanity:  cataclysmic devastation of world economies, (Covid-19) mass deaths, (fear of Covid-19) mass deaths, mass infections, mass job losses, mass social dislocations, mass miseries, etc.

Xi Jinping: Accused of negligence / cover-ups.

The fact of a natural transmissible disease cannot even avail China. The right to life is guaranteed by every constitution in the globe. And your freedom ends where my own begins. If your way of life poses an existential danger to your neighbours, then you are guilty of a crime and ought to be arrested and charged accordingly. For instance, in the Nigerian Criminal Code Act, 2004, Section 247 provides that, Any person who   (a)   vitiates the atmosphere in any place so as to make it noxious to the health of persons in  general dwelling or carrying on business in the neighbourhood or passing along a public  way; or (b)   does any act which is, and which he knows or has reason to believe to be, likely to  spread  the infection of any disease dangerous to life, whether human or animal,  is guilty of a misdemeanour and is liable to imprisonment for six months.”

Section 343 provides that, “(1) Any person who in a manner so rash or negligent as to endanger human life or to be likely to cause harm to any other person    (d)   omits to take precautions against any probable danger from any animal in his possession; is guilty of a misdemeanour and is liable to imprisonment for one year.  According to Section 344, “Any person who unlawfully does any act, or omits to do any act which it is his duty to do, not being an act or omission specified in section 343 of this Code, by which act or omission harm is caused to any person, is guilty of a misdemeanour and is liable to imprisonment for six months.”  In Section 308, “Except as hereinafter set forth, any person who causes the death of another, directly or indirectly, by any means whatever, is deemed to have killed that other person.”  

All this points to the fact that we are individually accountable to one another and our neighbours. Any way of life that may endanger the well-being of my neighbours should be avoided at all cost. Not doing so will attract severe consequences. If China were an individual in Nigeria, he would have been on the road to jail and ultimately face the hangman’s noose!

How much more guilty of ‘crime against humanity’ are you, if your way of life results in mass deaths and mass miseries of your neighbours! Chinese ecological interactions with animals have been proved by scientists to aid the emergence of microbial threats, such as the corona virus which has now collapsed the world on our heads. China is aware of the danger its interactions with animals pose to itself and its neighbours. Even if you don’t take measures to protect yourself, you have a bounden duty to take measures to protect your neighbours who may be affected by your acts of omission or commission.

By its act of omission (negligent/ reckless conduct/ interactions with animals) and act of commission (cover-ups/ refusal to disclose to the World Health Organisation accurately and timely the corona virus outbreak – a health emergency), China is guilty, criminally guilty!

Nigeria should explore all the peaceful means provided in Article 56 of IHR (2005) and Article 31 of Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts (2001) to obtain the $50 billion reparation

China cannot live while the world dies. Other nations cannot continue to bring peace on the table while China brings death. China is a major contributor to the worldwide contagious disease yoke. The world cannot continue to bear such an insufferable burden. It’s thus far and no further. Enough is enough!

The Black Death or The Pestilence of 1350 originated in China and consumed about 200 millions lives, about a third of the world’s population at the period. It’s the deadliest pandemic ever recorded in human history! The Third Plague Pandemic started in China in 1855 and led to the death of 15 million people across the world. The Spanish Flu of 1918 claimed the lives of 50 million victims worldwide. Scientists believe China is one of the countries suspected to be its origin. The 1957 Asian Flu started also from China and killed over one million people across the globe. In 2003, the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) originated from China and wiped off the lives of 774 people. Bird Flu came from China in the same year. Is China the only country in the world? China must bear the consequences of its negligence and a way of life that sends millions of its neighbours to untimely graves.

The balance should be used to erect world class Primary Healthcare Centres in all the 774 LGAs and state-of-the-art physical structures (visible to all eyes) in all the public and private tertiary institutions of learning

China is one of the signatories to the International Health Regulation (IHR) (2005). According to Article 2 of IHR, “The purpose and scope of these Regulations are to prevent, protect against, control and provide a public health response to the international spread of disease in ways that are commensurate with and restricted to public health risks, and which avoid unnecessary interference with international traffic and trade.”

 

Under Article 6 of IHR, “2. Each State Party shall notify WHO, by the most efficient means of communication available, by way of the National IHR Focal Point, and within 24 hours of assessment  of public health information, of all events which may constitute a public health emergency of international concern within its territory in accordance with the decision instrument, as well as any health measure implemented in response to those events… 2. Following a notification, a State Party shall continue to communicate to WHO timely, accurate  and sufficiently detailed public health information available to it on the notified event, where possible including case definitions, laboratory results, source and type of the risk, number of cases and deaths, conditions affecting the spread of the disease and the health measures employed; and report, when necessary, the difficulties faced and support needed in responding to the potential public health emergency of international concern.”

 

There is sufficient evidence to establish that China is guilty of internationally wrongful act by engaging in cover-ups rather than complying with its obligations to the World Health Organisation (WHO).  According to Article 12 of the Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts (2001) There is a breach of an international obligation by a State when an act of that State is not in conformity with what is required of it by that obligation, regardless of its origin or character.” Article 31 provides that, “1. The responsible State is under an obligation to make full reparation for the injury caused by the internationally wrongful act. 2. Injury includes any damage, whether material or moral, caused by the internationally wrongful act of a State.” In Article 46, “Where several States are injured by the same internationally wrongful act, each injured State may separately invoke the responsibility of the State which has committed the internationally wrongful act.”

Nigerian artisans: Livelihoods wiped off by Covid-19

China is a closed society. It is a communist state and freedom of speech is abridged. Everything begins and ends with the state. As I have had cause to observe, if man’s lust for acquisition and retention of power ever needed a platform for expression, then Marxism provided one. Communism railed against the concentration of wealth in the hands of capitalists but was never able to appreciate that the greatest evil to humanity was the concentration of power in the hands of communists.  In fact, communist ideology simply dovetailed into man’s greed for power.

The present Chinese president, Xi Jinping, is clearly on a mission to become a life president. He has centralised power. There is now a cult of personality around him. He is the book that every Chinese reads. He’s the song that Chinese must sing. Even universities are not left out in the human worship of Xi.  His political musings, Xi Jinping Thought, has been enshrined into the constitution of the Communist Party. His re-election in 2018 saw members of the castrated National People’s Congress “crying in happiness”!  Xi Jinping Thought is said to have provided “solution for the modern problems of humankind”!  That Xi “unique solution” to the problems of mankind is now playing out before our own eyes!!!

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others, satires George Orwell in Animal Farm. China must become an open society, embrace democratic culture if it is to remain a treasured player in a globalised world.

Xi Jinping-led China has inflicted mass miseries on our world. It has shattered world’s economies. As at August 8, 2020, there were 19,700,659 cases of corona virus infection across the globe. The death toll from the plague was 727,002 worldwide. The figure of those infected, whose lives hang in the balance, exacting maximum pressure and resources on health facilities across the world is 6,334,128 million. The number of job losses is estimated to be 500 million across the world. The number of those that have died as a result of being neglected by health workers for fear of Covid-19 infection, especially in the third world countries, is estimated to be more than those that actually succumbed to the pandemic. The economic losses worldwide in this year are estimated to be in the region of $21trillion US Dollars.  If these are not consequences of World War III declared against the world by China, I wonder what the upshots of a shooting war would be!

In my own country, Nigeria, many companies are sacking their workers. A few are paying 50, 25 or 15 per cent of salaries. Some firms are not paying at all – they are not making money; they are no longer in business! Worst hit are the workers in the informal sector, who constitute 80 per cent of the nation’s workforce. The inevitable lockdown has wiped off their means of livelihood.  COVID-19 has aggravated the fragile state of the Nigerian economy. According to official figures, 942 people have died as a result of corona virus. But we know the figure is higher. More citizens have lost their lives as a result of neglect by health personnel due to the fear of contacting the dreaded virus. 46,130 compatriots have been infected.  Many children have become orphans. Millions of bread winners no longer have bread to put on the table.

It is good that a resolution of the World Health Assembly mandated WHO to “initiate, at the earliest appropriate moment, and in consultation with Member States, a stepwise process of impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation, including using existing mechanisms, as appropriate, to review experience gained and lessons learned from the WHO-coordinated international health response to COVID-19.” But this is even short of a slap in the wrist, as the resolutions did not single out or even mention China.

 

Communism railed against the concentration of wealth in the hands of capitalists but was never able to appreciate that the greatest evil to humanity was the concentration of power in the hands of communists

Under the present scenario, there is no international legal framework through which China (its leaders) can be arrested and convicted for its direct or indirect crimes against its neighbours (the rest of the world) on corona virus contagion. And given the China’s blistering response to the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s call for an overhaul of the World Health Organisation to include recruitment of investigators similar to “weapons inspectors” to determine the source of major disease outbreaks, it is apparent that China will not comply or cooperate with WHO to perform its international obligations or will only do so on its own terms.

At the outset of the novel corona virus, when time was of essence, the Chinese authorities suppressed information and went ahead to reprimand their health officials who made attempts to kick-start a process towards compliance with IHR. Specifically, Dr Li Wenliang, who acted professionally by releasing information to other doctors on the break-out of a contagious disease, was charged with a crime and subjected to admonition. He later died from the infectious disease. China’s non-compliance has led to debilitating consequences across the globe. China has acted in defiance and is in breach of the provisions of the International Health Regulations (2005) regarding a communicable disease like corona virus and has committed internationally wrongful acts.

Soyombo Opeyemi

Article 56 of IHR provides means of settling disputes through negotiation or mediation, through the good offices of WHO’s Director-General, arbitration, which “shall be conducted in accordance with the Permanent Court of Arbitration Optional Rules for Arbitrating Disputes between Two States applicable at the time a request for arbitration is made” or through such international bodies (like the World Court in The Hague).

Any way of life that may endanger the well-being of my neighbours should be avoided at all cost. If China were an individual in Nigeria, he would have been on the road to jail and ultimately face the hangman’s noose

Article 56 of IHR and Article 31 of Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts or not, it is manifest that China will resort to strong-arm tactics, including but not limited to raising tariffs (as in case of Australia), applying sanctions, declaring trade wars, and use its veto power in the Security Council to its advantage. And if things degenerate, the potential for a nuclear war is a deterrent.

Based on projections by economic experts, Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was expected to grow by 2.3 per cent in 2020 but may now contract by as much as 3.5 per cent. That’s a loss of 5.8 per cent of GDP. The country may lose as much as 80 per cent in crude oil revenue; possibly some $15 to $17 billion US Dollars. If we go by the 2019 GDP figure of $447 billion US Dollars, the GDP loss may be around $26 billion US Dollars! If we add the losses suffered in the number of deaths due to Covid-19, deaths due to the fear of Covid-19 infection, suicides occasioned by loss of livelihoods, the number of Nigerians to sink below the poverty line, cases of depression and social dislocations, et cetera, then I estimate a minimum, conservative total sum of $50 billion US dollars that China will be required to pay Nigeria as compensation, reparation or damages for the Covid-19 disaster.

A fraction of the Covid-19 Reparation Fund should be set aside as compensation for families of those that died of corona virus and those documented to have been infected by the dreaded disease. The balance should be used to erect world class, state-of-the-art and well-equipped Primary Healthcare Centres (visible to all eyes) in all the Local Government Areas in Nigeria and construct world class, state-of-the-art and well-equipped physical structures (visible to all eyes) in all the public and private tertiary institutions of learning in Nigeria – colleges of education, polytechnics and universities.

Nigeria should explore all the peaceful means provided in Article 56 of International Health Regulations (2005) and Article 31 of Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts (2001) to obtain the $50 billion reparation.

The promise by China to build in Addis Ababa the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) is only an attempt to deflect responsibility and avoid penalties for the Covid-19 disaster. It has not acted in good conscience. The same way it has no scruples in turning Nigeria, nay Africa into dumping ground for substandard products. A communist state has no beneficial gifts for contemporary African societies, who currently are embracing democratic tenets.

Heads or tails, China must prepare for push back from nations, sub regional groupings, continents and blocs who have suffered irreparable consequences from the corona virus missile from Wuhan in China.

Finally, this is not a racial profiling. We love the Chinese. They are good people. They are our good friends. But we have to be alive in order to enjoy the good relationship with the Chinese. Their communist leaders must be held accountable for the deaths, tears and economic turmoil brought upon our nation through Covid-19.

 

  • Soyombo, author of Buhari v. Yar’Adua (2008), media practitioner and public affairs analyst, sent this contribution from Abeokuta via densityshow@yahoo.com (08060177135)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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