CNA – 25 Sep 2020 02:50AM (Updated: 25 Sep 2020 12:33PM)
UNITED NATIONS: China on Thursday (Sep 24) lashed out at the United States at a high-level United Nations meeting over its criticism on the coronavirus, with its envoy declaring, “Enough is enough!”
Two days after President Donald Trump used his annual address to the General Assembly to attack China’s record, its ambassador to the UN, Zhang Jun, strongly criticised the US role in global affairs.
“I must say, enough is enough! You have created enough troubles for the world already,” he told a Security Council meeting on global governance attended through video conference by several heads of state.
“The US has nearly seven million confirmed cases and over 200,000 deaths by now. With the most advanced medical technologies and system in the world, why has the US turned out to have the most confirmed cases and fatalities?” he asked in English.
“If someone should be held accountable, it should be a few US politicians themselves.”
Using a phrase often told by US leaders to China, Zhang said, “The US should understand that a major power should behave like a major power.”
The United States “is completely isolated,” he said in remarks enthusiastically backed by his Russian counterpart.
Speaking earlier in the session, the US ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft, voiced anger at the tone.
“You know, shame on each of you. I am astonished and I am disgusted by the content of today’s discussion,” Craft said.
“I am actually really quite ashamed of this Council – members of the Council who took this opportunity to focus on political grudges rather than the critical issue at hand. My goodness.”
Trump in his speech Tuesday had demanded action against China for spreading the “plague” of COVID-19 to the world.
China suppressed news of the respiratory disease when it first emerged last year in Wuhan and initial advice played down the risks of transmission.
China’s communist leaders have more recently tried to transform the narrative into one of the country’s success in stopping the virus.
Trump’s response to the pandemic – which he has provocatively called the “China virus” – has emerged as a major political issue as he seeks a new term in the Nov 3 election.
AFRICANS SEEK DEBT RELIEF
With concerns over COVID-19 upending global travel, the UN General Assembly went virtual for its annual extravaganza, which usually brings 10,000 people into a congested section of midtown Manhattan.
Several African leaders used their virtual addresses to the General Assembly to plead for more international assistance, fearing that COVID-19 will impede development.
“Our nations are asking for financial support that rises to the level of the economic crisis they’re witnessing,” said Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou.
“Just a debt moratorium will not be enough faced with the challenges that have arisen. We simply have to cancel the debt completely,” he said, reiterating a call made Tuesday by his counterpart from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Felix Tshisekedi.
The Group of 20 major economies in mid-April suspended debt payments for the poorest nations through the end of the year as they face major budget shortfalls due to the Covid shutdown.
The African Union is seeking to extend the moratorium through 2021, warning of dire economic effects from the health crisis.
“This pandemic could erase more than a decade of economic growth and social progress achieved by the African continent,” Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara said.
Despite the economic concerns, Africa has been one of the regions least affected in health terms by COVID-19, with the continent reporting 1.8 million cases and 34,500 deaths.