Washington & Beijing in standoff at UN over Covid-19 as Trump blames China for spread of coronavirus

US President Donald Trump used his time speaking to the United Nations to slam China and blame it for the coronavirus pandemic, while his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping pushed back against his “baseless accusations.”

“As we pursue this bright future, we must hold accountable the nation which unleashed this plague onto the world: China,” Trump said in a pre-recorded speech filmed on Monday in Washington. 

The president also slammed the World Health Organization, which he claimed is “virtually controlled by China.”

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“The United Nations must hold China accountable for their actions,” Trump declared, adding praise for his own administration’s response to the virus.  

He specifically blamed China for “allowing flights to leave” the country in the early days of the pandemic, facilitating wider transmission to other countries, and for claiming “people without symptoms would not spread the disease.”

He referred to the Covid-19 virus as the “China virus” – something he’s repeatedly done before.

Xi pushed back in his own address to the UN, saying the pandemic should not be “politicized.” While he did not name the US directly, the president’s speech had none of Trump’s nationalist declarations, and he called instead for cooperation between countries, saying, “Unilateralism is dead.” 

“No country has the right to dominate global affairs, control the destiny of others or keep advantages in development all to itself,” Xi said, adding that no nation should be the “bully or boss of the world.”

The coronavirus pandemic has claimed nearly one million lives globally, and 200,000 in the US alone, according to the latest Reuters tally. 

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