U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft at a Security Council meeting. (Photo by EuropaNewswire /Gado/Getty Images)
(CNSNews.com) – The widening gulf between the United States and China was starkly on display at a U.N. Security Council meeting on Thursday, as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Kelly Craft accused the Chinese Communist Party of withholding cooperation and lying to the world about the coronavirus outbreak, which emerged there late last year before causing havoc across the globe.
In response to her hard-hitting statement, China’s ambassador delivered a seven-minute lecture, declaring the U.S. to be isolated globally and accusing it of “spreading political virus and disinformation, and creating confrontation and division.”
The virtual meeting on “global governance post-COVID-19” came two days after President Trump in a recorded address to the high level U.N. General Assembly urged the world body to hold China accountable for having “unleashed this plague onto the world.”
In pre-recorded messages to the Security Council meeting, the Chinese and Russian foreign ministers both alluded to the U.S. criticism, with China’s Wang Yi urging “major countries” to “discard Cold War mentality and ideological bias” and Russia’s Sergei Lavrov saying that some countries were using the crisis to settle scores with “geopolitical competitors.”
Then, about two hours into the meeting, Craft took the floor for a live intervention.
“Shame on each of you,” she began. “I am astonished and I am disgusted by the content of today’s discussion.”
Craft reprimanded council members who, she said, “took this opportunity to focus on political grudges rather than the critical issue at hand.”
“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,” she added.
Craft then reprised Trump’s General Assembly remarks accusing China of responsibility for the spread of the coronavirus.
“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,” she said. “More importantly, those decisions cost hundreds of thousands of lives around the world.”
“Equally troubling is the danger posed by the corrupted international organizations,” she said, adding that the World Health Organization’s “reputation lies in tatters today, after the WHO assisted the Chinese campaign to withhold cooperation and lie to the world.”
Craft said all nations must “recommit to the full and rapid sharing of public health data with each other – it is essential from both a containment and a moral perspective.” She also spoke about U.S. actions at home and abroad in response to the pandemic, including the contribution of more than $900 million to the U.N. response, “by far the most of any country to date.”
Chinese Ambassador Zhang Jun asked for the floor to respond. (Craft left the virtual call, with a U.S. mission staffer taking her place.)
President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago, Florida in 2017. (Photo by Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)
“For quite a while some U.S. politicians have been obsessed with attacking other countries and U.N. bodies,” said Zhang. “Abusing the platform of the United Nations and its Security Council, the United States 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 then repeated Beijing’s talking points about having been transparent and cooperative with the global community, claiming that “China’s contribution to the global battle against the pandemic is also well-recognized.”
“The United States should understand that its failure in handling COVID-19 is totally its own fault,” he charged.
Earlier, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had opened the meeting with an appeal for unity.
“The pandemic is a clear test of international cooperation – a test we have essentially failed,” he said. “It has killed nearly one million people around the world, infected over 30 million, and remains largely out of control. This was the result of a lack of global preparedness, cooperation, unity and solidarity.”
“COVID-19 is casting a dark shadow across the world. But it is also a warning that must spur us to action,” Guterres said. “We have no choice. Either we come together in global institutions that are fit for purpose, or we will be crushed by divisiveness and chaos.”