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China Dismisses Missouri COVID-19 Lawsuit as 'Absurd'

People gather outside the Missouri Capitol to protest stay-at-home orders put into place due to the COVID-19 outbreak, April 21, 2020, in Jefferson City, Missouri.

China’s Foreign Ministry Wednesday rejected a lawsuit filed by the U.S. state of Missouri claiming the nation is responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Missouri’s attorney general, Eric Schmitt, announced the lawsuit Tuesday, alleging Chinese officials are responsible for the pandemic that has sickened around 2.5 million people worldwide, thrown tens of millions out of work and devastated local economies, including in China.

Schmitt said the Chinese government lied about the dangers of the virus and didn’t do enough to slow its spread.

At a news briefing Wednesday in Beijing, China Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuang said the “so-called” lawsuit was “malicious” and “without factual or legal basis.” He maintained that China has been transparent throughout the crisis and informed the World Health Organization (WHO) about the coronavirus situation in a timely fashion.

Shuang also said Chinese officials had been in regular contact with the U.S. government regarding the coronavirus since Jan. 3.

Missouri’s action is likely to be largely symbolic since lawsuits against other countries typically are dismissed because U.S. law generally prohibits them.