Tensions between the US and China took center stage at the 75th UN General Assembly on Tuesday, and President Trump used his speech to go after Beijing. The president blamed China for the coronavirus pandemic and said Beijing “unleashed” the virus on the world.
“We are once again engaged in a great global struggle. We have waged a fierce battle against the invisible enemy — the China virus — which has claimed countless lives in 188 countries,” President Trump said in a pre-recorded speech. After discussing the US response to the pandemic, Trump said, “We must hold accountable the nation which unleashed this plague onto the world: China.”
China hawks in Washington have capitalized on the pandemic to increase hostility against Beijing, and the president has eagerly played along. The US has recently taken action against China over trade issues, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Taiwan, and the South China Sea.
Trump also went after Beijing over environmental matters and said China dumps “millions and millions” of tons of trash into the world’s oceans.
Chinese President Xi Jinping also delivered a speech on Tuesday. President Xi told the General Assembly that China has “no intention to fight either a Cold War or a hot one with any country,” in an apparent reference to tensions with the US.
“We will continue to narrow differences and resolve disputes with others through dialogue and negotiation. We will not seek to develop only ourselves or engage in a zero-sum game,” Xi said.
While opening the ceremony, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned of the dangers of a “new Cold War,” and said it must be avoided. “We are moving in a very dangerous direction. Our world cannot afford a future where the two largest economies split the globe in a great fracture,” Guterres said.