President Donald Trump on Tuesday demanded that the United Nations hold China accountable for the coronavirus pandemic as he defends his own handling of COVID-19 in America where the death toll is nearing 200,000.
"We have waged a fierce battle against the invisible enemy – the China virus – which has claimed countless lives in 188 countries," Trump said in a prerecorded address to the UN General Assembly that lasted less than seven minutes.
"As we pursue this bright future, we must hold accountable the nation which unleashed this plague onto the world: China."
While Trump blames China, he has been harshly criticized for his administration's track record in battling the coronavirus, now a top issue in his bid for reelection. Democratic opponent Joe Biden claims Trump bungled the response to COVID-19 and is responsible for the US having more deaths than any other nation.
Trump encouraged the reopening of US society even as the virus was spreading rapidly and holds campaign rallies where few wear face masks or practice social distancing.
But Trump points to the virus' origins in China and says the Chinese government acted irresponsibly in allowing the virus to spread.
"The United Nations must hold China accountable for their actions," Trump said. The president also took aim at China's environmental record and the United Nations itself.
"Those who attack America's exceptional environmental record while ignoring China's rampant pollution are not interested in the environment. They only want to punish America. And I will not stand for it," Trump said.