Washington:The latest meeting of the Group of Seven (G7) countries has ended in disarray because of attempts by the United States to include language in a draft final statement that linked the new coronavirus to China.
The COVID-19 disease, caused by the new coronavirus, emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year and is currently affecting 185 countries and territories across the globe. It has so far affected more than 471,000 people and killed over 21,200 others.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic.
Although the WHO has officially named the infectious disease COVID-19, and the virus SARS-CoV-2, a 12-paragraph draft statement circulated by the US among the G7 ministers during a meeting on Wednesday referred to it as the “Wuhan Virus,” CNN reported, citing an unnamed European diplomat.
“What the US State Department has suggested is a red line. You cannot agree with this branding of this virus and trying to communicate this,” the diplomat said, adding that such branding would have blamed China for the pandemic’s spread.
The six other members of the G7, namely the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Canada, rejected the US characterization and no joint statement was produced.
Several of the members put out their own statements at the end of the meeting, which was held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A French statement about the meeting referred to the outbreak as the “COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Western media, particularly those in the US, has been criticizing the Chinese government for what they have called a slow response to the outbreak. Outlets even accused Beijing of a cover-up in the early stages of the epidemic. US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have in public remarks attempted to blame China, as well.
This is while China has effectively halted its outbreak, including in Wuhan, through a raft of tough but disciplined measures, whereas the US is seeing its own epidemic rise exponentially. The first US case was confirmed January 20. In the short period since, more than 68,400 Americans have been infected and over 1,030 others have lost their lives due to the disease.
In China, the coronavirus has infected some 81,280 people and killed over 3,280 overall. Zero or very few viral transmissions are now being reported in China.
Beijing has said the US attempts to characterize the virus as Chinese-born are stigmatizing.
rump, who has been heavily criticized for his use of such phrases as “the China Virus,” said on Tuesday that he would no longer associate the coronavirus with China.
Nevertheless, according to the CNN report, the Trump administration has implemented a coordinated messaging campaign that includes talking points sent out by the National Security Council (NSC) demanding that US officials speak of a Chinese “cover-up.”
China has strongly rejected such allegations.
Just on Wednesday, Pompeo accused Beijing of disinformation regarding the disease.
Beijing reported the disease — a cluster of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause at the time — to the WHO on December 31, and Chinese officials say they started regular contacts with Washington about the new virus on January 3.
A Chinese official has also previously said that the US military “might have brought the epidemic” to Wuhan. Chinese internet users and experts have been demanding recently that the US release the health and infection information of the US military delegation that went to Wuhan for the Military World Games in October last year.