Beijing lashes out after US embassy in China used the 'Wuhan virus'

Beijing lashes out after US embassy in China used the 'Wuhan virus'

March 27, 2020

China’s state media blasts ‘sinister and shameless American politicians’ after the US embassy in Beijing called coronavirus the ‘Wuhan virus’ on its state-controlled social media

  • The diplomatic mission used the term twice as it posted in Chinese on Weibo
  • The posts emerged hours after Beijing blasted Mike Pompeo for over the name 
  • Xinhua today condemned the embassy for ‘publicly echoing’ Pompeo’s remarks
  • Replies from furious Chinese web users have inundated the embassy’s account 
  • Trump said the US would ‘work closely’ with China in a phone call with Xi today
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

China’s state media has lashed out at the US embassy in Beijing after it referred to the novel coronavirus as the ‘Wuhan virus’ on heavily censored Chinese social media.

The diplomatic mission used the term twice yesterday when it commented on the pandemic in Chinese on Weibo, the country’s equivalent to Twitter, sparking an uproar among web users.

Beijing’s censors are particularly sensitive about controversial articles and posts written in Chinese because they can be understood by Chinese citizens, who are not allowed to use foreign social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook.

China’s state news agency Xinhua has condemned the US embassy in Beijing after it used the term the ‘Wuhan virus’ twice on its official account on Weibo. Pictured, security officers wearing hazmat suit check the passport of passengers arriving at Wuhan railway station today

The US embassy (pictured) uploaded the controversial posts hours after China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang condemned US State of Secretary Pompeo over the term

The posts emerged hours after China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang accused US State of Secretary Mike Pompeo of having a ‘sinister motive’ for calling the virus to be named after the city where it was first detected.

Official news agency Xinhua today doubled down on the criticism as it slammed ‘certain American politicians’ as ‘sinister’ and ‘shameless’ over the wording from the US embassy.

The first post in question was uploaded yesterday evening on the embassy’s official Weibo account when it shared the translated transcript of a speech given by the Pompeo a day earlier. 

The first post in question read: ‘State of Secretary Pompeo: On the occasion of the unprecedented global challenge that is the Wuhan virus, it is more important than ever to collaborate with our partners.’ Beijing accused Pompeo of having having ‘sinister motive’

The embassy then posted the translation of a statement from the office of the spokesperson, which criticised Iran. ‘The rumour Khamenei fabricated about the US being responsible for the Wuhan virus puts Iranians, Americans and the whole world in danger,’ it wrote

Part of it read: ‘State of Secretary Pompeo: On the occasion of the unprecedented global challenge that is the Wuhan virus, it is more important than ever to collaborate with our partners.’

Pompeo was addressing reporters at a press conference at the State Department in Washington after a virtual meeting with the G7 foreign ministers.

The second mention appeared about an hour later when the embassy posted the translation of a statement from the office of the spokesperson, which criticised Iran for suggesting that the US should be held responsible for the virus.

‘The rumour Khamenei fabricated about the US being responsible for the Wuhan virus puts Iranians, Americans and the whole world in danger,’ it wrote. 

China has strongly pushed back on US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s insistence on referring to the deadly novel coronavirus as the ‘Wuhan virus’ after the city in China where it was first detected. Pompeo is pictured speaking at a briefing in Washington on March 25

Both posts were quickly met with criticism from Chinese web users, who left tens of thousands of angry replies under them.

One popular comment said: ‘Correction: American virus.’

Another reply accused the US of giving disinformation: ‘If the US did not cover up the [fact] of the virus and lie to American people, how can it explain that the number of confirmed cases soared from a few hundred to 70,000 in less than 10 days.’

The pandemic has killed more than 23,900 people and infected over 530,000 worldwide

In a commentary today, Xinhua News Agency condemned the US embassy for ‘publicly echoing’ Pompeo’s remarks.

It said: ‘Some people in American go against the stream and are destined to lose public support.’

It accused ‘certain American politicians’ of failing to actively contribute to the fight against the pandemic.

‘Instead, [they are] devoted to shifting their responsibility in creative ways, have sinister motives and are shameless,’ it blasted.

The commentary was released hours before US President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping discussed the pandemic in a phone call as the two countries locked horns in a diplomatic row over the origin of the disease.


Donald Trump and Xi Jinping spoke over the phone Thursday night in their first direct contact since the coronavirus pandemic emerged, vowing to work together to beat the disease

Trump praised the call with Xi as ‘very good’ and said the US and China were ‘working closely’ in their fight against coronavirus.

It was the first direct conversation between the two leaders since the global crisis began in Wuhan late last year.

Trump touted his ‘respect’ for China’s efforts to tackle the disease, despite goading Beijing over what he has described as the ‘Chinese virus’ in recent weeks.

US coronavirus cases have been following an exponential growth curve – roughly doubling every three days – though Trump has claimed the numbers are down to increased testing

Experts have warned that 80,000 Americans could die from coronavirus even with quarantines in place, despite Trump hinting he wants the country back at work by Easter

Meanwhile, Xi said he ‘wishes to continue sharing all information and experience with the US’ and called on the two countries to ‘unite to fight’ the disease.

The call came shortly after the US leap-frogged China to report the largest number of coronavirus cases anywhere in the world at 83,553.

Beijing has reported 81,340 cases, claiming zero domestic infections in recent days after draconian lockdown measures – of the kind being resisted by the US – were put in place.

China slams Pompeo after he called the bug ‘Wuhan virus’ 

Pompeo’s call for the virus to be identified by name as the ‘Wuhan virus’ at a virtual meeting of foreign ministers from the Group of 7

China has strongly pushed back on US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s insistence on referring to the deadly novel coronavirus as the ‘Wuhan virus’ after the city in China where it was first detected.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Thursday that it was an effort to ‘stigmatise China and discredit China’s efforts in an attempt to divert attention and shift responsibilities.’ 

‘He has a very sinister motive,’ Geng told reporters at a daily briefing.

Geng also defended China’s efforts at tackling the virus and denied it was seeking to place responsibility for the outbreak elsewhere.

China has been accused of trying to squelch information about the outbreak during its early stages, and some of its diplomats have openly suggested that the virus may have been brought to China from the United States.

Pompeo’s call for the virus to be identified by name as the ‘Wuhan virus’ at a virtual meeting of foreign ministers from the Group of 7 leading industrialised countries resulted in their opting against releasing a group statement.

The World Health Organization and others have cautioned against giving the virus a geographic name because of its global nature.

President Donald Trump has steered away from those terms as critics have said they foster discriminatory sentiments and behaviour against Asians and Asian Americans. 

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