China on Tuesday asked India not to use the country’s name while referring to the coronavirus, and said that it could stigmatise the country and harm international relations. Beijing has strongly objected to the terms “China virus” or “Wuhan Virus”, and had engaged in a diplomatic spat with the United States over the origin of COVID-19 earlier this month.
“[China’s Foreign Minister] Wang Yi said it’s not acceptable and detrimental to international cooperation to label the virus and stigmatise China, hope India oppose such narrow mindset,” tweeted China’s envoy’s Sun Weidong. “[India’s Foreign Minister] Dr Jaishankar agreed not to label the virus and the international community should send strong signal of solidarity.” The ambassador was referring to a phone conversation between the two foreign ministers.
S Jaishankar, meanwhile, said that he and his Chinese counterpart discussed ways to fight the coronavirus pandemic together. “Discussed with state councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi of China our working together in combating COVID-19,” he tweeted. “Agreed to build further on our bilateral efforts in this domain.”
United States President Donald Trump, who has been criticised for calling coronavirus “Chinese virus”, has said he would stop using the term. He also said that Asian-Americans have to be protected amid increasing instances of racist attacks against them.
China and the US had engaged in a war of words over the origin of the novel coronavirus. On March 12, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian had alleged that the US Army may have brought the deadly coronavirus to his country. Zhao’s tweet was accompanied by a video of a US health official saying that some of the people thought to have died of influenza were posthumously diagnosed as having had coronavirus or COVID-19.
India has reported 562 cases of coronavirus and nine people have died so far, according to the health ministry. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day nationwide lockdown to slow down the fast-spreading disease.
The coronavirus is said to have originated in a seafood market in China’s Wuhan city. Over 3,000 people have died in the country and more than 81,000 have been infected. Covid-19, has spread to 168 countries, infecting more than 4 lakh people and killing nearly 19,000. Italy has reported the most number of deaths – 6,820 – due to the virus.