Is China responsible for the outbreak? | Updated: 2020-04-30 14:05

The following is one of the 16 most common rumors about the COVID-19 epidemic related to China, compiled and published by the Chinese embassy in Germany. The original version was published in Chinese and German. China Daily did some minor editing and updated a few figures in translation.

[Photo/China Daily]

Rumor: China is responsible for the outbreak and must compensate the world.

Fact: The virus is a common enemy of the mankind and China is also a victim. There is no legal basis to demand "compensation" from China.

Under the international law, a state can only be accused of bearing "state responsibility" if it has committed an "internationally wrongful act", that is, what the state has done has violated its international obligations. In the fight against COVID-19, China has taken timely and effective measures to fulfill its international obligations (see "Rumor 5").

The WHO announced the outbreak as the Public Health Emergency of International Concern on Jan 30, a month after China first notified the WHO of the epidemic. This sufficiently demonstrates that China has fulfilled its obligations of notifying the world without any delay.

Current international laws and the International Health Regulations provide no basis for holding a state responsible for a pandemic. Some experts on international laws think that if requesting China to be responsible for COVID-19 and make compensations, then who shall be responsible for epidemics like H1N1 influenza, AIDS and Mad Cow Disease?

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