Mandatory Credit: Photo by Evan Vucci/AP/Shutterstock (10434333bm) Donald Trump, Sauli Niinisto. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto in the Oval Office of the White House, in Washington Trump, Washington, USA – 02 Oct 2019
A spat between the United States of America, USA, and China, over the novel coronavirus has escalated, on Tuesday, as President Donald Trump angered Beijing, by referring to the pathogen as the “Chinese Virus”.
The two countries have sparred over the origin of the virus for days, with a Chinese Official promoting conspiracy theories, claiming that it was brought to China by the US Army, and American Officials using terms seen as stigmatising a nation.
“The United States will be powerfully supporting those industries, like Airlines and others, that are particularly affected by the Chinese Virus”, Trump tweeted, on Monday night.
Trump’s Allies had previously referred to the pandemic as the “Chinese coronavirus”.
Beijing reacting, said on Tuesday, that it is “strongly indignant” over the phrase, which it called “a kind of stigmatisation”.
It asked that the United States should “immediately stop its unjustified accusations against China”, the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Geng Shuang, told Reporters.
A commentary by the official Xinhua news Agency, in China, said that using “racist and xenophobic names to cast blame for the outbreak on other countries, can only reveal Politicians’ irresponsibility and incompetence, which will intensify virus fears”.
The war of words reignited Diplomatic tension between the two countries, which have tussled over trade and other disputes, since Trump took Office as President of the United States.
Trump’s comments were criticised inside the US as well, with warnings that it could incite a backlash against the Asian-American community.
“Our Asian-American communities, people YOU serve, are already suffering. They do not need you fuelling more bigotry”, tweeted New York City Mayor, Bill de Blasio, whose State is one of the hardest-hit by the virus in the US.
The World Health Organisation, WHO, stated that more cases and deaths have been reported in the rest of the world, than in China.
The new coronavirus was first detected late last year, with China’s own Health Officials initially saying that its source was a live animal market in the Central City of Wuhan, whose government had initially tried to cover up the outbreak.
However, China has sought to distance itself from the virus, stating that, the origin is still unknown, while seeking global goodwill, by offering aid to countries facing serious outbreaks.
The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, in a phone call which he initiated with top Chinese Official, Yang Jiechi, voiced anger that Beijing has used official channels “to shift blame for COVID-19 to the United States”, the State Department said.
Pompeo “stressed that this is not the time to spread disinformation and outlandish rumours, but rather a time for all nations to come together to fight this common threat”, the Department added.
The State Department, on Friday, summoned the Chinese Ambassador, Cui Tiankai, to denounce Beijing’s promotion of a conspiracy theory that had gained wide attention on the social media.
The Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Zhao Lijian, suggested on Twitter, last week, that “patient zero” in the global pandemic may have come from the United States.
“It might be US Army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owes us an explanation”, tweeted Zhao, who is known for his provocative statements on the social media.
Pompeo had sought to link China to the global pandemic, repeatedly referring to it as the “Wuhan virus”, despite advice from Health Professionals, that such geographic labels can be stigmatising.
Yang issued a “stern warning to the United States, that any scheme to smear China, will be doomed to fail”, Xinhua said in its summary of the call with Pompeo.
While COVID-19 has largely come under control in China, it has killed more than 7,000 people around the world, and severely disrupted daily life in Western countries.