NEW YORK, New York - Three major world powers butted heads in a virtual showdown at the United Nations on Friday.
"In such a challenging moment, major countries are even more duty-bound to put the future of humankind first, discard Cold War mentality and ideological bias and come together in the spirit of partnership to tide over the difficulties," Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at the start of the session which was to discuss international cooperation on the coronavirus pandemic..
"Unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction needs to be opposed in order to safeguard the authority and sanctity of international law," he said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov followed up taking aim at the United States over it casting blame, and over international sanctions.
"In a whole number of countries there is a temptation to look abroad for those who are responsible for their own internal problems," he said. "And we see attempts on the part of individual countries to use the current situation in order to move forward their narrow interests of the moment in order to settle the score with the undesirable governments or geopolitical competitors."
Kelly Craft, the US ambassador to the United Nations, responded to the opening statements by rebuking the previous speakers, saying she was "astonished and disgusted" by their remarks.
"You know, shame on each of you. I am astonished and I am disgusted by the content of today's discussion. 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. Moreover, I am disappointed on behalf of the people you are trying to reach, by squandering this opportunity for political purposes. President Trump has made it very clear, we will do whatever is right, even if it's unpopular, because, let me tell you what, this is not a popularity contest," Craft said.
"As President Trump clearly stated in his speech before the General Assembly on Tuesday, 'we must hold accountable the nation which unleashed this plague onto the world: China.' The Chinese Communist Party's decision to hide the origins of this virus, minimize its danger, and suppress scientific cooperation transformed a local epidemic into a global pandemic. More importantly, those decisions cost hundreds of thousands of lives around the world. Hundreds of thousands, the U.S. ambassador to the UN said.
Craft then made a swipe at the WHO, referring to it as a 'corrupt' organization. "Equally troubling is the danger posed by the corrupted international organizations. The World Health Organization was for many years considered a center of science over politics, data over bias. That is why the United States was always the single largest funder," Craft told the General Assembly.
"That reputation lies in tatters today after the WHO assisted the Chinese campaign to withhold cooperation and lie to the world. To this day, the world's scientists still do not have a complete understanding of the origins, characteristics, and spread of the virus an understanding that only the Chinese Communist Party can provide."
Chinese UN Ambassador Zhang Jun was quick to respond. "China resolutely opposes and rejects the baseless accusations by the U.S., he said.
"For quite a while, some US politicians have been obsessed with attacking other countries and UN bodies. Abusing the platform of the UN and its Security Council, the U.S. has been spreading political virus and disinformation, and creating confrontation and division. Such practice cannot defeat the virus. On the contrary, it has seriously disrupted the joint efforts of the international community to fight the pandemic."
"I must say, enough is enough. You have created enough troubles for the world already," Zhang said.
"China was the first to be hit by COVID-19. The time line of China's response is clear. Under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, the Chinese people have united together in the fight against the virus. China's great efforts and sacrifice are clear to all. China's contribution to the global battle against the pandemic is also well recognized. The U.S. should understand that its failure in handling COVID-19 is totally its own fault," he said, noting that the U.S. has nearly 7 million confirmed cases and over 200,000 deaths.
"With the most advanced medical technologies and system in the world, why has the U.S. turned out to have the most confirmed cases and fatalities?" he asked.
"What the U.S. needs to do is stop the political manipulation, stop labeling or politicizing the virus, focus on combating the virus at home, and support the UN and the WHO in playing their roles."
"The U.S. should understand that a major power should behave like a major power. When the world is facing many daunting challenges, major countries should shoulder special responsibilities. The U.S. always portrays itself as a "force for good", and vows to play a leading role in global affairs. China, like many other countries, welcomes such efforts of the U.S to make contributions to world peace and progress of humanity," Ambassador Zhang said.
"To be a good leader, one must lead by example. It should be a model in following international law and fulfilling international obligations. It should take up the responsibilities, rather than pursuing exceptionalism, withdrawing from international institutions and treaties at will, and disassociating itself from global governance. It should respect and unite all, and value good faith and equality, rather than forcefully imposing sanctions, creating division and confrontation, bullying others, and leading the world to conflicts or even wars," the Chinese ambassador said.