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Mr Guterres urged the US and China to avoid a “new Cold War”. The UN head warned the two nations are heading in a “very dangerous direction”, and added: “Our world cannot afford a future where the two largest economies split the globe in a great fracture.”
Tensions between Washington and Beijing have flared at times this year, not least due to sharp rhetoric over the South China Sea and military drills there.
The US has also repeatedly blasted China for the COVID-19 pandemic – a topic President Donald Trump brought up in a heated speech at the prominent international UN summit this week.
The UN head’s comments were in sharp contrast to those issued by Mr Trump at the meeting.
The US president’s speech at the event was focussed almost entirely on two themes – US achievements and criticism of China.
He called on countries around the world to “hold accountable” China, accusing it of having “unleashed” COVID-19.
Also at the Summit, France called for a UN team head to Xinjiang to address “the situation of the Muslim Uighur minority.”
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In addition, US president Donald Trump called on the UN more generally to target “religious persecution and the ethnic cleansing of religious minorities.”
This is something China has been accused of with its persecution of the Muslim Uighur community in the country’s Xinjiang region.
US officials this month said “evidence of systematic and widespread forced labour in Xinjiang is astounding and irrefutable,” according to NBC news.
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Mr Macron said: “France has requested that an international mission under the aegis of the United Nations go to Xinjiang in order to take into account the concerns that we collectively have on the situation of the Muslim Uighur minority.”
United Nations experts have said there could be as many as one million Uighur Muslims and others held in ‘detention centres’, in China’s Xinjiang province, Reuters claims.
The statements by Mr Macron and Mr Trump were made at the UN General Assembly this week, which was largely held virtually.
Chinese president Xi Jinping used his UN speech to attempt to downplay tensions.
He called on nations to “join hands” and highlighted the values of “democracy” despite recent concerns about the health of democracy in Hong Kong – a semi-autonomous region technically under Chinese sovereignty.
In addition, a Ren Zhiqiang – a critic of Mr Xi – was jailed for 18 years this week on alleged corruption charges.
CNN reports the charges emerged after the critic and ex-property tycoon allegedly called Mr Xi a “clown” in an essay.
Mr Xi insisted China would “continue to work as a builder of global peace,” though tensions between China and countries such as India and Taiwan are ongoing
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