The foreign ministers of the G-7 countries had their delicate sensibilities offended by the language during a video conference call — and guess who is to blame. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is the bad guy in this scenario. The traditional joint statement released at the end of G-7 meetings is not happening this year.
So, you ask, what did Pompeo do that was so wrong? He called the coronavirus by a name no longer deemed to be politically correct – the Wuhan virus. Yes, instead of being able to honestly acknowledge where the coronavirus pandemic originated, foreign ministers of six of the world’s seven leading industrialized countries could not get past how Pompeo spoke of the virus. And, to make matters more surreal, some won’t even admit that Wuhan, China is where the virus originated.
One European official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive negotiations, said there were multiple disagreements among the G-7 members Wednesday but acknowledged “Wuhan virus” posed the most significant obstacle. Besides viewing the term as inappropriate, some officials noted that experts could not say with absolute certainty that the virus came from Wuhan until further research is conducted.
The pandemic was a main topic of the video conference. Instead of meeting in person as was planned to happen in the U.S. this year, President Trump canceled the meeting and the White House organized a video conference instead, citing social distancing measures being taken to contain the coronavirus. As it turns out, the leaders of Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Germany were brought together for a video conference call by President Trump earlier this month. Secretary Pompeo has spoken regularly with foreign leaders during this time of restricted travel. A joint statement was issued after Trump’s call with the other members.
As often happens when reading stories critical of the Trump administration, the sources are anonymous and refuse to go on the record. Funny how that keeps happening, right?
“What the State Department has suggested is a red line,” a European diplomat said. “You cannot agree with this branding of this virus and trying to communicate this.”
The proposed draft statement by the United States also blamed China for the pandemic’s spread, the diplomat told CNN. Although the World Health Organization officially has dubbed the illness Covid-19 or coronavirus, a 12-paragraph draft statement circulated by the US among the G7 ministers referred to it as the “Wuhan virus.” Because the US holds the presidency for the international coalition — which also includes the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada — it was responsible for penning the draft joint statement.
France issued its own statement and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin signed off on it. Interestingly enough, the statement issued after Trump’s teleconference earlier this month didn’t mention China by name at all.
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).”
Germany’s Der Spiegel was the first to report the rift.
Der Spiegel was first to report on the inclusion of the phrase in the draft. Asked about the German outlet’s report on Wednesday, Pompeo did not deny it.
“With respect to the statement, I always think about these meetings the right answer is to make sure we have the same message coming out of it,” he said during a press availability at the State Department.
Pompeo said that the pandemic was “the most pressing agenda item” at Wednesday’s meeting.
“There was a lot of discussion today amongst the G7 about the intentional disinformation campaign that China has been and continues to be engaged in,” he said.
The American media referred to the coronavirus in such terms when the outbreak first began. Now, however, it is used as a weapon to wound the president’s handling of the national health and economic crisis. While some of the initial responses of the Trump administration can be labeled as slow or unhelpful, there is no denying where the virus originated or the fact that now most American media is only too happy to sound like they are being paid to spout Chinese propaganda. Democrats, in particular, want badly for this pandemic to propel their candidate into the White House in November. Unfortunately for them, their candidate will be Joe Biden. The most important response made early on was the shutting down of air travel from China. Trump is right to take credit for that. That decision was made at the request of Dr. Fauci, by the way. When his critics try to claim he isn’t listening to the professionals, it’s not true.
Is it the end of the world that there is no joint statement from the G-7? No, of course not. Most people aren’t even paying attention to that anyway. It isn’t the first time that President Trump and his administration have stood alone, either. In 2018 he left the G-7 summit to attend his talks in North Korea. Last year, at the end of the 2019 G-7 meeting, no communique was issued because Trump wouldn’t play ball with the climate change alarmists, among other issues. No one other than political junkies even noticed.
This story is all about smacking Pompeo and the Trump administration instead of focusing on the areas in which the countries worked together. Pompeo is not bashful about pushing back when criticized. He calls out the lack of transparency from the Chinese communist government, as he should.
“We tried, you’ll remember, from the opening days to get our scientists, our experts on the ground there so that we could begin to assist in the global response to what began there in China, but we weren’t able to do that. The Chinese Communist Party wouldn’t permit that to happen,” he said.
“The Chinese Communist Party poses a substantial threat to our health and way of life, as the Wuhan virus outbreak clearly has demonstrated,” Pompeo added.
Pompeo’s bull in the china shop attitude isn’t always a bad thing.