The United Nations General Assembly brought together verbal combatants from East and West to present their political animosity toward one another as tensions grow between China and the United States.
The United States-China rivalry has surfaced as a prime concern for Secretary-General António Guterres, and he made that clear in his opening remarks to the annual gathering.
Mr. Guterres warned that the world was moving in a "dangerous direction" and must do all it can to prevent a new Cold War between the U.S. and China.
"Our world cannot afford a future where the two largest economies split the globe in a great fracture – each with its own trade and financial rules and internet and artificial intelligence capacities," Guterres said.
Now is the time for a collective new push for peace and reconciliation."
On the coronavirus, global warming, human rights, international cooperation, and a range of other issues, President Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, laid out differing views in their prerecorded remarks.
Mr. Trump blamed China for the coronavirus and demanded that the United Nations hold the country accountable and Beijing's record on environmental and human rights issues.
"We must hold accountable the nation which unleashed this plague onto the world: China," Trump told the U.N. in a seven-minute, prerecorded speech. "In the earliest days of the virus, China locked down traveled domestically, while allowing flights to leave China and infect the world."
Trump again referred to COVID-19 as the "China Virus," a term that many Asians find offensive. And he attacked the World Health Organization, which the U.S. has begun withdrawing from, for being "virtually controlled by China." “China falsely declared that there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission. Later, they falsely said people without symptoms would not spread the disease."
"In the earliest days of the virus, China locked down travel domestically while allowing flights to leave China and infect the world," the president said. "China condemned my travel ban on their country, even as they canceled domestic flights and locked citizens in their homes."
In the earliest days of the pandemic, Trump praised the World Health Organization for its response. Still, as the coronavirus spread in the U.S., he became of both the U.N. body and Beijing for what he said was an effort to obscure the extent of the crisis.
"If the United Nations is to be an effective organization, it must focus on the real problems of the world," Trump said. "This includes terrorism, the oppression of women, forced labor, drug trafficking, human and sex trafficking, religious persecution, and the ethnic cleansing of religious minorities."
Chinese President Xi Jinping addressed the general assembly shortly after Trump. He called for global cooperation in defeating the COVID-19 pandemic and said, "any attempt of politicizing the issue or stigmatization must be rejected," according to the simultaneous translation of his remarks.
Mr. Xi, anticipating Mr. Trump’s attacks, portrayed the virus as everyone’s challenge and described China’s response as scientific, generous and responsible.
"The virus will be defeated. Humanity will win this battle. Facing the virus, we should put people and life first. We should mobilize all resources to make a science-based and targeted-response," Xi said, speaking in Mandarin.