Lawyers for the Berman Law Group, which filed a class-action claim in a federal court in Miami, say their suit steers around the immunity barrier by citing the Chinese Communist Party.

“They are not the government or a state. They are a separate, independent entity, so they don’t enjoy any immunity,” said Jeremy Alters, who worked on the suit.

Missouri’s lawyers rely on the same claim. “The Communist Party is not a foreign state or an agency or instrumentality of a foreign state, and is not entitled to any form of sovereign immunity,” the suit says.

Experts on the immunities law, also known as FSIA, say that argument will not work.

“In China, the CCP is the state,” said Chimene Keitner, a professor of international law at UC Hastings in San Francisco and a former State Department lawyer. “Courts generally do not view attempts to ‘plead around’ the FSIA favorably.”

She cited rulings by a federal judge in Florida who held that the Communist Party of Cuba was an agency or instrument of the Cuban government, and another by a federal judge in New York who said China Central Television is an instrument of China because it is a mouthpiece for the government.