WASHINGTON – The Trump administration is urging the United States Security Council to raise awareness of the Chinese origins of the coronavirus, four United Nations diplomats told NBC News, causing a standoff as the global organization tries to respond to the Cobbling together pandemic.
Talks between the United Nations Security Council nations over a joint declaration or resolution on the coronavirus have stalled because the United States has insisted that the virus originally came from Wuhan, China, and exactly where it started. China’s diplomats are angry according to the diplomats, even if they try to include their own language in the statement that praises China’s efforts to contain the virus.
The dispute at the United Nations takes place amid growing pointers between Washington and Beijing over the corona virus.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly blamed China for its spread and accused Beijing of hiding early knowledge about the virus. But after that Reports When there was an increase in racism and attacks against Asian Americans, Trump tweeted this week that it was “NOT their fault” and said he would no longer call it the “Chinese virus”.
“Everyone knows that it comes from China,” Trump said on Tuesday. “But I decided we shouldn’t make a big deal of it anymore.”
Even so, his government has continued to work to brand it as a crisis caused by China. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo referred again on Wednesday to “the Wuhan virus” and “this crisis that started in Wuhan, China”. He also did not deny a German news report that he had urged the G7 leaders to include the “Wuhan virus” language in a joint statement.
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In the Security Council, the government’s urge to designate China as the source of the virus began in the past few weeks when Estonia, a rotating member of the Council, began drafting a statement for the Council.
Although the United States has a separate public health facility – the World Health Organization – the Security Council has tried to warn how ongoing global conflicts could exacerbate the crisis and undermine the response.
France, a permanent member of the Council, proposed a version calling for “a general and immediate end to hostilities in all countries”, including a 30-day humanitarian break in conflict to allow coronavirus supplies to flow, NBC News .
However, the US tried to include references to “the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Wuhan, Hubei province in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in November 2019” in various drafts and changes that were distributed between the countries. The PRC is China’s official name.
Another U.S. draft encouraged the United States to build on past experience, “particularly from the outbreak of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV) corona virus that originated in Guangdong Province, PRC in 2011 . “
These demands have hit China, a veto member of the Security Council, whose diplomats have accused the US of “irresponsible practices” in an email from NBC News this week to other nations’ diplomats.
“We are amazed at the United States’ decision to take this opportunity to politicize the outbreak and blame China, which we strongly oppose,” wrote China’s mission to the United States. “The unfounded accusations and malicious counterfeiting from the United States aim to elude their own responsibility, which has severely poisoned the atmosphere of global cooperation in containing the outbreak.”
A US diplomat who was aware of the discussion said that the National Security Council had instructed the US mission to the United Nations to speak up with the support of Pompeo.
The U.S. mission did not respond to a request for comment. However, a senior Trump administration official said that a key element in Trump’s efforts to fight the coronavirus is to call global experts “to better understand the coronavirus.”
“Our goal is to collect the data, information, and samples needed to understand the evolutionary origins of the virus so that we can effectively fight the pandemic and prepare for future outbreaks,” said the official.
To make matters worse, Russia insisted that ambassadors appear in person on the Security Council to vote. This contradicted the public health guidelines, which asked people to stay at home and not gather in groups, diplomats from three Security Council nations said.
For more than a week, when other countries in the Council instructed almost all of their staff to work from home, Russia’s diplomats had continued to appear on their mission in New York, the diplomats said. In the meantime, they argued that virtual meetings were unsustainable and raised technical issues with video conferencing equipment.
Russia’s mission to the United States did not respond to a request for comment. But on Tuesday, the Russians dropped their existence at face-to-face meetings, several diplomats said. The shift came on the same day that Russian President Vladimir Putin, wearing a full protective suit and respirator when visiting a hospital, learned from the Moscow mayor that Russia has significantly more coronavirus patients than its official record shows.
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In Washington, the Trump administration balked at an unfounded suggestion from the Chinese State Department that it may have been the U.S. Army that brought the corona virus to Wuhan.
“You see it. You see it on social media,” said Pompeo on Wednesday, accusing Beijing of an “intentional disinformation campaign” even though he insisted that it was not time to show his fingers now. “You see it in statements made by older people within the Chinese Communist Party who are talking about whether this has been brought to China by the United States. It’s a crazy conversation.”
In discussions about a Security Council statement or resolution, Chinese diplomats had their own wish list, two diplomats familiar with the conversation said: Evidence of the success of China’s extensive efforts to control the crisis once the virus was identified. After enforcing a strict ban in Hubei Province, the center of the crisis in China, the authorities have started to relax the restrictions as the number of new cases has dropped to almost zero.
A diplomat involved in the Security Council talks said other nations are in favor of a compromise whereby China and the United States will give up their insistence on a language that is inevitably problematic for others.
China’s mission to the United States did not respond to a request for comment.