Trump accuses Beijing of unleashing ‘plague’

New York: US President Donald Trump told the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday that China must be held accountable for having unleashed COVID-19 on the world, prompting Beijing to accuse him of lies and abusing the U.N. platform to provoke confrontation.

China’s President Xi Jinping struck a conciliatory tone in his pre-recorded virtual address to the General Assembly, calling for enhanced cooperation over the pandemic and stressing that China had no intention of fighting either a Cold War or a hot war with any country.

But China’s U.N. ambassador Zhang Jun rejected Trump’s accusations against China as baseless and said lies repeated a thousand times are still lies.

Trump and Xi, leaders of the world’s two largest economies, laid out competing visions at a time when relations have plunged to their worst level in decades,  with coronavirus tensions aggravating trade and technology disputes. Trump, facing a November re-election battle with the United States dealing with the world’s highest official number of deaths and infections from the coronavirus, focused his speech on attacking China.

He accused Beijing of allowing people to leave China in the early stages of the outbreak to infect the world while shutting down domestic travel.

We must hold accountable the nation which unleashed this plague onto the world, China, he said in remarks taped on Monday and delivered remotely to the General Assembly due to the pandemic.

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, he said.

Later, they falsely said people without symptoms would not spread the disease … The United Nations must hold China accountable for their actions.

The President promised to distribute a vaccine and said: We will defeat the virus, and we will end the pandemic.