‚Wuhan Virus‘: G7 Divided by US Push to Blame China for Pandemic’s Spread

Written by | Thursday, March 26th, 2020

Members of the Group of Seven – or G7 – have rejected the push by the US State Department to include the phrase “Wuhan virus” in a joint statement following a meeting of foreign ministers on coronavirus on Wednesday (24 March) and some of them chose to release separate statements instead. “What the State Department has suggested is a red line,” a European diplomat said, highlighting just how divided the group was on this sensitive matter. “You cannot agree with this branding of this virus and trying to communicate this.” Thoughofficially referred to as Covid-19 or coronavirus by the World Health Organization (WTO), the draft statement circulated by the US among the G7 ministers dubbed the illness as the “Wuhan virus.” Since the US currently holds the presidency for the Group of Seven, which also includes the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada, it was responsible for penning the draft joint statement.
And while blame game has recently escalated between US and China over coronavirus disinformation, several of the G7 member nations responded to the US push to include the „Wuhan virus“ by releasing their own statements, such as the oneFrench one that used the “Covid-19 pandemic” term.But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that “there was a lot of discussion today amongst the G7 about the intentional disinformation campaign that China has been and continues to be engaged in.” In public remarks, Pompeo has consistently targeted China for an alleged lack of transparency at the outset of the pandemic, which is a part of the Trump administration‘s coordinated messaging campaign aimed at highlighting China’s alleged “coverup” related to its own coronavirus outbreak and subsequent disinformation campaign. President Donald Trump himself repeatedly referred to the illness as „China virus“ or „Chinese virus“.
But a joint statement by President Donald Trump and the other G7 leaders after a 16 March videoconference made no mention of China at all and the US leaders said on Tuesday (24 March) that he had decided to pull back from associating the coronavirus with China. State Department officials have explained that the use of the phrase “Wuhan virus” is meant to counter Beijing’s disinformation push as Chinese officials continue to overtly spread false and misleading information about the virus, including that it was brought to the country by US military personnel as early as in November 2019. Also, critics say the „China virus“ phrase is inflammatory, particularly as Asians and Asian Americans in the US report heightened incidents of xenophobia and racism.When the virus was officially named, WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stressed that it is an imperative to give such a name to the virus that would “prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatizing.

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