ANKARA

China may impose sanctions on US entities and state officials in retaliation to lawsuits filed against Beijing over the coronavirus pandemic, local media reported on Thursday.

According to local daily Global Times, officials identified at least four American lawmakers and two US entities to be put on China’s sanctions list.

“China is extremely dissatisfied with the abuse of litigation by the US against China over the COVID-19 epidemic and mulling punitive countermeasures against US individuals, entities and state officials … who filed lawsuits against China to seek damages over the coronavirus pandemic,” read a report by the Beijing-based daily, citing “sources close to the matter.”

Six lawsuits have been filed against Beijing in US federal courts so far, with the state of Missouri being the first to sue the Chinese government.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt could be one of the US officials to face sanctions, according to the report.

The US led calls for a probe into the origin of the virus and found support from Australia, angering Beijing.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also recently claimed that the novel coronavirus “escaped from a lab in Wuhan.”

On Monday, China lashed out at the repeated demands for an investigation, saying any attempt to “smear or frame” it without evidence was “immoral.”

“Lies are lies, no matter how many times they are repeated. We urge US politicians to stop the tricks and save their own face,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a news briefing.

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