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In a pre-recorded address to delegates at the UN General Assembly, Chinese president Xi Jinping said “major countries should act like major countries” and highlighted the importance of economic globalisation – something analysts have said goes against the US’ ‘America First’ stance. However, Mr Xi’s apparent calls for co-operation at the UN come as China and a number of nations are involved in territorial disputes around the world.
In June this year, a clash between Indian and Chinese forces in a disputed Himalayan boundary between the two nations killed a number of soldiers.
In the South China Sea, tensions are ongoing between China and Taiwan, with the latter recently warning Beijing to ‘back off’ after Chinese warplanes repeatedly entered Taiwan’s side of the ‘median line’ boundary between them.
The US has also strongly criticised China’s stance in the South China Sea, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accusing Beijing of carrying out a “campaign of bullying” in the region.
As Mr Xi appeared to downplay tensions – he insisted China has “no intention to enter a Cold War with any country” – US President Donald Trump blasted the nation.
Some analysts such as Vox have described the president’s rhetoric towards China as ‘Cold War-like’.
Mr Trump accused China of having “unleashed” the COVID-19 pandemic, and urged delegates to hold the country accountable.
He also criticised the World Health Organisation for a lack of action in the pandemic’s early stages, accusing it of being “virtually controlled by China”.
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The US president said: “China condemned my travel ban on their country, even as they cancelled domestic flights and locked citizens in their homes.
“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.
“Later they falsely said people without symptoms would not spread the disease. The United Nations must hold China accountable for their actions.”
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Mr Trump went on to heavily criticise China on a number of other fronts, including its environmental record and trade policies.
He accused China of overfishing “other countries’ waters” as well as emitting “more toxic mercury into the atmosphere than any country”.
At the same time, he touted various US achievements such as its response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The president said the US had “launched the most aggressive mobilisation since the Second World War” and “pioneered lifesaving treatments” for the virus.
On the US’ own environmental record, the president claimed the country had “reduced its carbon emissions by more than any other country” in the Paris climate accord – which Mr Trump had pulled the US out of.
This is despite the president being vocally opposed to renewable energy sources.
He recently attacked wind power during a North Carolina campaign speech because “we don’t like to have lots of open gaps when the wind’s not blowing” to power his television.
The Trump administration also recently relaxed environmental restrictions on coal power plants, which environmental groups said could lead to more toxic chemicals being released into rivers.
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