UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Chinese President Xi Jinping told the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday that Beijing has “no intention to fight either a Cold War or a hot one with any country,” as tensions grow between China and the United States.
“We will continue to narrow differences and resolve disputes with others through dialogue and negotiation. We will not seek to develop only ourselves or engage in zero sum game,” Xi said in a pre-recorded video statement to the annual gathering of world leaders, conducted virtually this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Long-simmering tensions between the United States and China hit boiling point over the pandemic, spotlighting Beijing’s bid for greater multilateral influence in a challenge to Washington’s traditional leadership.
The coronavirus emerged in China late last year and Washington accuses Beijing of a lack of transparency that it says worsened the outbreak. China denies the U.S. assertions.
In what appeared to be a rebuke to U.S. President Donald Trump, though both leaders’ speeches were pre-recorded, Xi called for a global response to the virus and giving the World Health Organization a leading role.
Trump has announced plans for the United States to leave the Geneva-based WHO, accusing the agency of being a puppet of China, a claim the WHO denied.
“Facing the virus, we should enhance solidarity and get through this together. We should follow the guidance of science, give full play to the leading role of the World Health Organization,” Xi said. “Any attempt of politicizing the issue or stigmatization must be rejected.”
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the 193-member General Assembly earlier on Tuesday that everything must be done to avoid a new Cold War, warning that “we are moving in a very dangerous direction.”
“Our world cannot afford a future where the two largest economies split the globe in a great fracture,” he said. “A technological and economic divide risks inevitably turning into a geo-strategic and military divide. We must avoid this at all costs.”
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols, Arshad Mohammed, David Brunnstrom; Editing by Howard Goller)