President Donald Trump attacked China for the coronavirus pandemic in a speech Tuesday to the United Nations General Assembly aimed squarely at U.S. voters, calling on the international body to punish Beijing.
“In the earliest days of the virus, China locked down travel domestically while allowing flights to leave China and infect the world,” Trump said in the speech, which was recorded Monday at the White House. “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.”
“The United Nations must hold China accountable for their actions,” Trump said. Trump has ramped up U.S. tensions with Beijing in recent months in an attempt to portray himself as tougher toward the country’s leaders than his re-election opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden.
The Trump administration has made a number of antagonistic moves toward China in recent months, including sanctioning Chinese officials over their treatment of Muslim minorities, removing special trade benefits enjoyed by Hong Kong, closing a Chinese consulate in Houston, and announcing plans to restrict Chinese visas for journalists and students.
Trump also is seeking to force the spin-off of the U.S. operations of TikTok, the popular Chinese-owned short video app.