Washington, Mar 26: The inclusion of the phrase "Wuhan virus" by the US State Department in the joint statement with the other G7 members after a meeting between the foreign ministers of these countries over coronavirus has created fissures in the group resulting in separate statements being given out by the members.
Reacting to the phrase a European diplomat said "What the State Department has suggested is a red line. You cannot agree with this branding of this virus and trying to communicate this."
Since the US holds the presidency of G7 -- which also includes the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada -- it was responsible for penning the 12-paragraph draft joint statement in which the United States blamed China for the pandemic's spread and kept referring to it as the "Wuhan virus", according to CNN.
This resulted in several of the member nations releasing their own statements following the foreign ministers' meeting, which was held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic.A French statement about the meeting referred to the "COVID-19 pandemic." And in a sign that the loaded term isn't a priority for all members of the Trump administration, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin signed on to a G7 finance ministers' statement that they were enhancing coordination "to respond to the global health, economic, and financial impacts associated with the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)."
A joint statement by President Donald Trump and the other G7 leaders after a March 16 videoconference made no mention of China at all. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has consistently targeted China for its alleged lack of transparency at the outset of the pandemic and also includes talking points sent out by the National Security Council pushing US officials to highlight China's alleged "coverup" and subsequent disinformation campaign.
State Department officials have said that the use of the phrase "Wuhan virus" is meant to counter such disinformation. However, critics say the phrase is inflammatory, particularly as Asians and Asian Americans in the US report heightened incidents of racism and xenophobia.
China reported a cluster of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause to the World Health Organization on December 31, while Chinese officials say they began regular contact with the US about the virus on January 3. The first US case was confirmed January 20.
President Donald Trump had said on Tuesday that he has decided to pull back from associating the coronavirus with China, which he had previously done by calling it the "China virus" or the "Chinese virus." (UNI)