Debut UN speech rejecting Cold War can't mask nation's actions, experts say
In his debut speech at the United Nations General Assembly, US President Joe Biden said the United States is not "seeking a new Cold War or a world divided into rigid blocs". But, for many experts, the rhetoric is laden with hypocrisy in standing in sharp contrast with Washington's actions in recent months.
Biden's speech on Tuesday came as world leaders, in person and on screen, returned to the United Nations' foremost gathering for the first time in the pandemic era, with the climate crisis and the world's worsening divisions taking center stage.
Biden said the US will "compete vigorously" with other major powers while emphasizing that the country does not want a new Cold War or the emergence of "rigid blocs".
He also told world leaders that the US is moving from "relentless war" to "relentless diplomacy", stressing the need for global unity to address the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.
"We're opening a new era of relentless diplomacy, of using the power of our development aid to invest in new ways of lifting people up around the world," Biden said.
But Xu Liping, a researcher at the National Institute of International Strategy of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Biden's speech runs counter to what the US has been doing.
"The speech is actually a slap in the face to the US. The so-called new Cold War refers to the actions that take another country as an 'imaginary enemy' who holds a different ideology, and decouple with the target country, throw sanctions on it and even threaten it, as well as care only about the interests of small blocs with its allies," Xu said.
"The US has been curbing Chinese technological companies, decoupling from China in scientific and technology fields and strengthening its military presence in the South China Sea. Aren't these gestures of a new Cold War?"
Biden also boasted that the US, under his watch, had reached a turning point with the end of military operations in Afghanistan last month, closing out the country's longest war. That set the stage, he said, for his administration to shift its attention to intensive diplomacy at a moment when there is no shortage of crises facing the globe.
"Today, many of our greatest concerns cannot be solved or even addressed by the force of arms," he said. "Bombs and bullets cannot defend against COVID-19 or its future variants."
Chen Xiangyang, director of the Institute of World Political Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said Biden's speech amounts to a heavy dose of political propaganda.
"Biden's wording demonstrates hypocrisy and duplicity, aimed at building a good and friendly image of the US. But the words are inconsistent with the deeds," said Chen, cautioning the international community to observe the US' moves while listening to its words.
Biden's debut at the UN General Assembly also came amid Washington's rift with Paris. The blowup resulted from a three-way agreement between the US, the United Kingdom and Australia that undercut a more than $60 billion submarine deal with France in favor of a plan to equip Australia with nuclear-powered submarines.
The three sides also announced a new security partnership known as AUKUS, which has sparked strong criticism from leaders of the European Union.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Monday there was a "crisis of trust" with the US as a result of the episode.
Biden wasn't so concerned. Asked by a reporter as he arrived at the UN on Tuesday on how he planned to repair relations with the French, Biden responded with two words: "They're great."
Biden explicitly said that the US is not seeking a new Cold War. However, the advent of AUKUS sends a different signal, said Muhammad Abdul Basit, a political scientist in Pakistan with a focus on international relations and sociopolitical issues.
Chen said: "It's obvious that the rift between the US and its allies is enlarging because the US continues to promote the 'America First' and is self-centered. The fragmentation is the result of its self-serving policies."
Agencies and Jan Yumul in Hong Kong contributed to this story.