In December 2019, a doctor from Hubei Provincial Hospital in China suspected that a novel coronavirus was causing the spread of an unknown respiratory disease in Wuhan.

After a couple of months, what initially started as an outbreak in the small province was declared a global pandemic, the costs of which continue to pile up to this day. While the viral outbreak is beyond anyone’s control, many believe that the Chinese communist regime is to be blamed for the unprecedented damage COVID-19 has caused so far.

It has only been two months since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 as a global pandemic, but more than a hundred thousand people have already died and more than a hundred nations have already suffered economically across the globe. In the U.S. alone, millions are still on lockdown, 16.8 million have already filed unemployment claims, and at least 15,000 have already died.

As the world grapples with the ill effects of the coronavirus pandemic, China continues to bring the crisis under control, reversing its once escalating cases. From thousands per day at the peak, the country now deals with only a dozen or a couple of dozen cases per day, setting an example to other nations when it comes to public health response.

China’s success in controlling the disease, however, doesn’t erase the fact that the communist country’s initial negligence was key to making the coronavirus pandemic possible. In fact, China should be held legally responsible for every bit of harm associated with the global health crisis.   

With the world economy now on the brink of collapse and coronavirus death toll still on the rise, China certainly owes the world a great deal. The first COVID-19 case appeared in China in as early as November 2019, but its government officials proactively impeded a global response by covering up what they knew about the deadly virus.

The decision to keep the rest of the world in the dark deprived other nations of the chance to prepare for the virus’ arrival on their shores—something that could have prevented a worldwide contagion. It wasn’t until late January that Chinese officials finally acknowledged they were battling an outbreak—late January, when thousands of their health workers had already caught the virus and thousands of people had already gone in and out of their shores.

Even after acknowledging how deadly the coronavirus could be, China’s lies and obstruction still went on. When the epidemic started to go out of hand in Wuhan, China underreported both the total cases and deaths in the region, denying U.S. scientists accurate data that they needed for research. As Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen put it, “This is more than mere negligence; it is active disinformation and obstruction.”

China was so determined to cover up the outbreak, perhaps because Chinese officials knew that shedding light on the virus—its nature and origins—would only add an additional layer to their culpability. Regardless of the reason, however, China must be held accountable for its lies.

Recently, U.S. health care workers and business owners filed lawsuits against the Chinese Communist Party for its complicity in this pandemic. According to former Justice Department official David Rivkin, the default judgments obtained from these lawsuits can be used “to seize any Chinese commercial assets, including any proceeds of Chinese exports anywhere in the world.” That doesn’t mean, however, that the benefit of filing suits against China is limited to just recovering money damages for the victims of the pandemic.

“Litigation discovery is a great vehicle for fact-finding,” said Rivkin. “We have only scratched the surface of China’s complicity in this pandemic. The best way to uncover the truth might be through the U.S. legal system,” he added.

China has always been known as a nation that craves recognition and power. If the Chinese government fails to acknowledge its negligence, does not hold itself responsible for the spread of the coronavirus, and does not compensate its victims, then the world will view the nation not as a world leader but a pariah in the international community.

China Coronavirus COVID-19 An elderly woman arrives in an ambulance to Wuhan Red Cross Hospital after being transferred from another hospital after recovering from the COVID-19 coronavirus in Wuhan on March 30, 2020. HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images