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Trump lashes China as UN warns against 'Cold War'

[UNITED NATIONS, United States] US President Donald Trump angrily cast blame on China over the coronavirus pandemic in an address on Tuesday before the United Nations, whose chief warned against a new "Cold War" between the two powers.

At a General Assembly held almost entirely virtually due to Covid-19, Mr Trump delivered a speech in full election campaign mode, even using his loaded term "China virus." "We must hold accountable the nation which unleashed this plague onto the world - China," Mr Trump said in a recorded address to the General Assembly, where each nation was represented by a single, masked delegate.

Mr Trump, who pulled the United States out of the Paris climate accord, attacked China for its carbon emission as well as dumping of plastic.

"Those who attack America's exceptional environmental record while ignoring China's rampant pollution are not interested in the environment. They only want to punish America. And I will not stand for it," he said.

Mr Trump renewed his criticism of China's role in the respiratory disease, news of which was suppressed when cases first emerged late last year in Wuhan.

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"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," Mr Trump said, referring to initial statements by the UN health body that it later revised.

Mr Trump has given notice that the United States is pulling out of the World Health Organization.

Washington has been the greatest contributor to the health body, which has tackled polio, malaria and other illnesses around the world Critics say Mr Trump is trying to shift blame for his handling of Covid-19 in the United States - where nearly 200,000 people have died, more than in any other country.

His Democratic rival in November 3 elections, Joe Biden, has vowed to keep the United States in the WHO if he wins.

Leaders were asked to send in videos days in advance to avoid technical glitches, meaning Chinese President Xi Jinping could not offer a spontaneous response if he wished.

But China's ambassador to the United Nations, Zhang Jun, said as he introduced Mr Xi's speech that Beijing "rejects the unfounded claims" from Mr Trump.

Mr Xi, in a mild-mannered speech delivered before a painting of the Great Wall, warned the world not to "politicize" the fight against coronavirus.

Mr Xi said that China would contribute another US$15 million to a UN fund on coronavirus.

"China has no intention of entering a Cold War," he said, urging the world to avoid "falling into the trap of a clash of civilisations."

AFP

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