China vs US: UN warns ‘Cold War’ could hit amid coronavirus pandemic as tensions soar

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Antonio Guterres issued the warning during a meeting at the General Assembly Hall in New York. He urged countries to come together and facilitate a global ceasefire as nations scramble to bring the health crisis to an end.

Mr Guterres stressed that the global pandemic was not just a “wake-up call,” but a “dress rehearsal” for future crises.

He said: “COVID-19 has laid bare the world’s fragilities: rising inequalities, climate catastrophe, widening societal divisions, rampant corruption.

“The pandemic has exploited these injustices, preyed on the most vulnerable and wiped away the progress of decades.

“People are hurting, our planet is burning.”

On Tuesday, he called for a 100-day effort by the international community, led by the Security Council, “to make this a reality by the end of the year”.

He added: “At the same time, we must do everything to avoid a new Cold War.”

Mr Guterres also took the opportunity to repeat a statement he made last year to world leaders regarding escalating US-China tensions.

He said: “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 — each with its own trade and financial rules and internet and artificial intelligence capacities.

“A technological and economic divide risks inevitably turning into a geo-strategic and military divide. We must avoid this at all costs.”

In a statement published on his Twitter account, Mr Guterres called for countries to reach an agreement of peace.

He wrote: “Today, I appeal for a new push by the international community to make a global ceasefire a reality by the end of this year.

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“We have 100 days. The clock is ticking.”

He added that the nations that formed the UN 75 years ago “had lived through a pandemic, a global depression, genocide & world war.

“They knew the cost of discord & the value of unity.

“The #COVID19 pandemic is a crisis unlike any we have ever seen.

“Today, we face our own 1945 moment.”

Mr Guterres’ appeal comes after tensions between China and the US escalated over the origin of the coronavirus pandemic.

US President Donald Trump sparked outraged in the international community with his labelling of the pathogen as the “China virus”, adding that the country had “unleashed this plague” onto the world.

During his Republican convention speech last month, he said: ‘In recent months, our nation, and the rest of the world, has been hit with a once-in-a-century pandemic that China allowed to spread around the globe.

“When the China Virus hit, we launched the largest national mobilisation since World War II.

He added: “We will go right after China. We will not rely on them one bit.”

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