Ministers of the G7 – the “Group of 7” intergovernmental economic group including the US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan – haven’t been able to issue a joint statement because the US insists on calling the coronavirus the “Wuhan Virus.”
The group was scheduled to meet in Pittsburgh this week, but cancelled its summit due to the coronavirus pandemic. Rather than cancel outright, the organisation planned to hold a four hour video conference on Wednesday, but US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s insistence on calling the coronavirus the “Wuhan Virus” caused issues for the group.
Germany newspaper Der Spiegel reported the other members of the G7 wanted to use the term ‘Covid-19,’ which is the term the World Health Organisation uses.
Apparently discussion about the virus at-all has been an issue for the group. France suggested the organisation discuss the virus during its meeting, while Mr Pompeo refused. The State Department argued that heads of state had already discussed and dealt with the issue, so the organisation shouldn’t make a statement.
He eventually gave in to pressure from the other ministers and agreed to discuss the virus, but then insisted it be called the “Wuhan Virus.”
The virus originated in Wuhan, China and Chinese authorities have come under fire recently by the US over allegations that the government covered up cases of coronavirus during the early stages of the outbreak.
During the address, the G7 ministers discussed whether China used an “intentional disinformation campaign” to obfuscate its role in the worsening of the pandemic.
Mr Pompeo repeated claims that China concealed evidence of the virus, according to US News and World Report.
Chinese officials have launched their own theories about the virus aimed at painting the US as a bad actor, claiming the virus was created in the US and brought to China.
Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, built his theory on comments made by US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Robert Redfield that suggested some Americans who died of the flu early this year may have actually died from the coronavirus.
“When did patient zero begin in US? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be US Army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation,” he wrote on Twitter.
The minister’s suggestion that the US Army brought the virus to Wuhan is a reference to a popular conspiracy theory in China that infected US soldiers brought the virus with them last year while participating in the Military World Games, which was held in Wuhan. There is no evidence to support that theory.
Mr Pompeo said officials proposing the idea were “crazy talking.”
The Secretary of State claimed the Chinese were trying to paint themselves as a benevolent force by emphasising their dispersal of medical supplies to afflicted regions of the world.
“But every one of the nations that was at that meeting this morning was deeply aware of the disinformation campaign that the Chinese Communist Party is engaged in to try and deflect from what has really taken place here,” he said.