U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Thursday he hopes there will be a “reset” in U.S.-China relations, acknowledging that while the countries had “different views” on human rights, they should work together on climate action.
Beijing has been pushing for greater global influence in a challenge to traditional U.S. leadership. Tension between the two superpowers hit a boiling point at the United Nations last year, under former U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, over the coronavirus pandemic.
“I hope we will see a reset in relations between the United States and China,” Guterres told reporters. “It is clear that in human rights, there are two completely different views, and it is clear that in human rights there is no scope for an agreement or a common vision.”
“There is an area where I believe there is a growing convergence of interests, and my appeal is for that area to be pursued by the two sides, together with the whole of the international community, and that area is climate action,” he said.
New U.S. President Joe Biden’s nominee for ambassador to the United Nations accused China on Wednesday of trying to “drive an authoritarian agenda” at the 193-member world body.
When asked for a response, Guterres said: “In relation to the United Nations I can guarantee that we are very strongly committed to make sure that the U.N. is a beacon of all the values are related to … security, development, human rights.”
Guterres also said he was “particularly worried” about the power of social media companies and that a regulatory framework should be created so decisions such as banning Trump from Twitter can be done “in line with law.”