China: Pompeo has 'sinister motive' for pushing 'Wuhan virus' language

China's government is taking aim at Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoHillicon Valley: Apple rolls out coronavirus screening app, website | Pompeo urged to crack down on coronavirus misinformation from China | Senators push FTC on price gouging | Instacart workers threaten strike COVID-19 intensifies the case for blacklisting Khalifa Haftar  House Republican urges Pompeo to take steps to limit misinformation from China on coronavirus MORE in the country's harshest criticism yet of Trump administration officials who have insisted on referring to COVID-19 as the "Wuhan" or "China" virus.

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang accused Pompeo of harboring "sinister" motives against China and attempting to point blame for the virus's spread, The Associated Press reported Thursday.

“He has a very sinister motive,” Geng said in a statement, adding that Pompeo was attempting to "stigmatize China and discredit China’s efforts in an attempt to divert attention and shift responsibilities.”

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Pompeo's insistence on using the "Wuhan virus" label, after the city in China where the outbreak is believed to have originated, has reportedly blocked a joint statement from leaders of the Group of Seven nations, who met remotely this week to discuss the coronavirus outbreak.

On Wednesday, Pompeo again criticized the Chinese government when asked if his insistence on the label was the reason for the holdup.

“We’ve wanted to work with the Chinese Communist Party throughout this crisis — this crisis that began in Wuhan, China,” Pompeo told reporters. “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."

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump orders US troops back to active duty for coronavirus response Trump asserts power to decide info inspector general for stimulus gives Congress Fighting a virus with the wrong tools MORE has repeatedly referred to the coronavirus as the "Chinese Virus" in public statements, while defending his use of the term and insisting that no racial connotation should be taken from it. 

"It’s not racist at all. No. Not at all," the president told reporters last week. "It comes from China. That’s why. It comes from China. I want to be accurate."

Asian Americans have reported increased levels of harassment and discrimination amid the outbreak.