United Nations, September 22
US President Donald Trump blasted China on Tuesday for “unleashing” the plague of the “China virus” onto the world, demanding that the United Nations must hold Beijing accountable for failing to contain the coronavirus that has killed nearly one million people globally, including 200,000 Americans.
“75 years after the end of World War II and the founding of the United Nations, 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,” Trump said in a video statement to the 75th session of the UN General Assembly.
Trump demanded that China, where the coronavirus emerged, be held accountable for failure to control the virus and for allowing it to spread across the world.
“As we pursue this bright future, we must hold accountable the nation which unleashed this plague onto the world: China,” he said.
Doubling down on Beijing, Trump said that China condemned his travel ban on their country, even as they cancelled domestic flights and locked citizens in their homes.
“In the earliest days of the virus, China locked down travel domestically while allowing flights to leave China and infect the world,” said Trump.
The COVID-19 pandemic has so far infected over 30 million people and more than 958,000 people have died. The US, with 6.7 million infections, crossed the grim milestone of 200,000 deaths.
“The Chinese government, and the World Health Organization – which is virtually controlled by China – falsely declared that there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission,” Trump said.
“Later, they falsely said people without symptoms would not spread the disease. The United Nations must hold China accountable for their actions,” he said.
Trump also slammed China for dumping millions and millions of tonnes of plastic and trash into the oceans every year, overfishing other countries’ waters, destroying vast swaths of coral reef, and emitting “more toxic mercury into the atmosphere than any country anywhere in the world”.
“China’s carbon emissions are nearly twice what the US has, and it’s rising fast,” he said, adding that he withdrew from the “one-sided” Paris Climate Accord and last year America reduced its carbon emissions by more than any country in the agreement.
“Those who attack America’s exceptional environmental record while ignoring China’s rampant pollution are not interested in the environment,” he said.
He said the US launched the most aggressive mobilisation, since the Second World War, rapidly producing a record supply of ventilators, creating a surplus that allowed the country to share them with friends and partners all around the globe.
The US pioneered life-saving treatments, reducing its fatality rate 85 per cent since April. Further, thanks to US efforts, three vaccines are in the final stage of clinical trials, he said.
“We are mass producing them in advance so they can be delivered immediately upon arrival,” he said.
Trump said that America will distribute a vaccine, “defeat the virus”, and end the pandemic.
Relations between the US and China have plummeted during Trump’s time in office, with a trade war, tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats, and angry denunciations coming from both Washington and Beijing.
Trump has repeatedly blamed China for the coronavirus pandemic which originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December last year and accused Beijing of suppressing the details of the contagion.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, who addressed the world body soon after, rejected attempts to politicise and stigmatize the pandemic.
He said, “COVID-19 reminds us that we are living in an interconnected global village with a common stake.”
No country can gain from others’ difficulties or maintain stability by taking advantage of others’ troubles, Xi said.
Giving the final address of his Presidency’s first term to the UN before America heads into the November election, Trump said that if the United Nations is to be an effective organisation, it must focus on the real problems of the world.
He listed terrorism, the oppression of women, forced labour, drug trafficking, human and sex trafficking, religious persecution, and the ethnic cleansing of religious minorities as the real problems facing the world today.
Trump said that American prosperity is the bedrock of freedom and security all over the world.
He touted his administration’s economic and foreign policy achievements in his address. He said in three short years of his presidency, “we built the greatest economy in history – and we are quickly doing it again.”
Trump said that under his administration, America “stood up” to decades of China’s trade abuses.
He said America withdrew from the “terrible” Iran nuclear deal and imposed crippling sanctions on the “world’s leading state sponsor of terror.”
He also hailed his administration for achieving two peace deals in the Middle East – after decades of no progress.
“These groundbreaking peace deals are the dawn of the new Middle East.”
Trump said he intends to “deliver more peace agreements” shortly, and he has never been more optimistic for the future of the region.
“There is no blood in the sand. Those days are hopefully over.”
With the United States also working to end the war in Afghanistan, Trump said “America is fulfilling our destiny as peacemaker. But it is peace through strength. We are stronger now than ever before…” PTI