Pompeo attacks Chinese virus campaign at G7 as Europeans seek cooperation

AFP Washington, United States Mar 26, 2020, 11.39 AM(IST)

Fie photo of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Pompeo is a sharp critic of Beijing who has gone on the offensive over what he calls the 'Wuhan virus', said he shared a common view with the top diplomats of the other G7 countries

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that the Group of Seven powers were united in opposing China's coronavirus "disinformation," but European allies emphasized cooperation to fight the global pandemic.

Foreign ministers from the major industrialized democracies spoke about the crisis by videoconference, scrapping a meeting scheduled in Pittsburgh, but any hope of showing a common front was eroded by the absence of a joint statement.

Also read: World leaders to hold crisis talks as virus toll tops 21,000

Pompeo, a sharp critic of Beijing who has gone on the offensive over what he calls the "Wuhan virus," said he shared a common view with the top diplomats of the other G7 countries -- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.

"Every one of the nations that were at that meeting this morning was deeply aware of the disinformation campaign that the Chinese Communist Party is engaged in to try and deflect from what has really taken place," Pompeo told reporters.

Also read: Coronavirus death toll tops 21,000 globally

Pompeo said that China "has been and continues to be engaged in" a campaign through social media that has included conspiracy theories of US involvement.

"This is crazy talk," he said.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman infuriated President Donald Trump's administration by suggesting on Twitter that US troops brought the virus to Wuhan, the metropolis where it was first detected late last year. 

Scientists widely believe the COVID-19 virus came from a Wuhan meat market that butchered exotic animals.

The virus has killed more than 21,000 people globally, but Beijing has appeared to bring it under control and has sent aid overseas -- including 40 tons of medical supplies to US ally Italy, which has the world's highest death toll.

Pompeo minimized China's efforts and pointed to a US Air Force cargo plane's aid delivery to Italy as well as private US charity efforts.

China is "now making small sales of product around the world and claiming that they are now the white hat in what has taken place," Pompeo said.