LONDON (Reuters) - A Chinese envoy has accused the United States of undermining the global economy by building trade barriers and artificially prolonging the global coronavirus pandemic by halting funding to the World Health Organization.
China’s ambassador to the United Nations in Vienna, Wang Qun, made the unusually harsh remarks at a meeting with officials from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), headquartered in Vienna.
U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday signalled a further deterioration in relationship with China over the virus outbreak, saying he had no interest in speaking to President Xi Jinping right now and going so far as to suggest he could even cut ties with the world’s second-largest economy.
In an interview with Fox Business Network, Trump said he was very disappointed with China’s failure to contain the disease and that the pandemic had cast a pall over his January trade deal with Beijing, which he has previously hailed as a major achievement.
Wang thanked OPEC for the efforts to stabilise global oil markets but then devoted most of his remarks to the stand-off with Washington.
“The U.S. has done its utmost to engage itself in blaming games and stigmatisation of China, and WHO, so as to shift its own responsibility for ineffective control of the pandemic in the U.S.,” Wang said on Thursday, according to remarks published on Friday.
“Such acts by the U.S. have not only disrupted and undermined international efforts and cooperation against the pandemic, but also artificially prolonged, in effect, the pandemic, and subsequently the standstill of the global economy, which will, in turn, result in the outbreak of systemic risks in some countries in debt-servicing and financial system,” he said.
Trump has often criticised the WHO for being slow off the mark and “China-centric” in the fight against the coronavirus and has said he is withdrawing funding. His critics accuse him of a slow and haphazard response to the pandemic, with the United States recording the world’s highest number of deaths at moer than 85,000.
Wang also said Washington was jeopardising the global economic recovery with the slapping of arbitrary tariffs, which have provoked trade frictions and disputes.
Such policy measures would drastically reduce the volume of international trade and disrupt the free movement of global commodities, personnel and services, Wang said.
“China now manufactures 30% of the world’s industrial goods and boasts 30% of the world’s trading volume. So, given such factors as costs, labour and workers, infrastructure and operating costs, how can the supply chain in China be relocated overnight by another country at will?” Wang said.
He also accused Washington of exacerbating humanitarian crises in countries such as Iran and Venezuela with new “long-arm extra-territorial sanctions”, which were also distorting global oil supply and further destabilising the Middle East.
Reporting by Dmitry Zhdannikov in London and Francois Murphy in Vienna; Editing by Nick Macfie
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