The U.S. Willful Practice of Long-arm Jurisdiction and its Perils

company, leaving Alstom no choice but to accept General Electric’s acquisition, vanishing ever since from the Fortune 500 list. The U.S. long-arm jurisdiction has become a tool for its public power to suppress competitors and meddle in normal international business activities, announcing the United States’ complete departure from its long-standing self-proclaimed champion of liberal market economy.

In recent years, the United States has frequently employed the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act (2016) to impose unilateral sanctions on entities in various countries deemed to have engaged in “serious human rights violations.” However, while exercising such unilateral sanctions, the United States has often violated the basic human rights of the sanctioned subjects disregarding the fact that their human rights are also entitled to protection.

When COVID-19 was raging in the world, the U.S. government did not relent in imposing unilateral sanctions on Iran, Syria and other countries, making it difficult for these countries to obtain the much-needed medical supplies to fight the virus. As a result of the sanctions, Iran has been cut off access to essential medicines and medical equipment, putting the health of millions of Iranians in jeopardy. To raise funds to fight the pandemic, the Iranian government applied to the IMF for a US$5 billion dollar exclusive loan, but the effort was blocked by the United States. Even worse, the United States prevented Iran from importing COVID vaccines by freezing its overseas funds and threatening vaccine suppliers. As the Brookings Institution estimated, during the height of the pandemic in Iran, U.S. sanctions further exacerbated the spread of the virus and could have caused up to 13,000 of deaths.


The U.S. long-arm jurisdiction is not something new. In spite of adaptations over time in its contents and measures, the nature of the U.S. long-arm jurisdiction has not changed: it has been, since the very beginning, a hegemonic tool to maintain U.S. hegemony, suppress foreign competitors, interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, and even subvert the governments of other countries. Over the last few years, the United States has abused long-arm jurisdiction by continuing to lower the threshold and intensifying measures to an unprecedented degree against wider range of targets. It not only undermines the principle of sovereign equality, violates international law, and erodes the multilateral order with the UN at its core, but also creates and intensifies tensions and conflicts among major countries, and poses a threat to the international security system established after World War II. It also interferes with and distorts normal international commercial exchanges and trade order, disrupts the supply chain of global trade, damages the interests of enterprises and raises their operating costs. The United States should renounce its illegal unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction measures, and truly take up its international responsibilities as a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

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