The world must do all it can to prevent a new Cold War, the UN chief has warned, as he opened a general assembly set to be dominated by US-China tensions and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Secretary-General António Guterres said the world was moving in a “dangerous direction”, speaking of the fracture created by “the two largest economies”.
Both US President Donald Trump and China’s Xi Jinping are to speak later.
This year’s assembly is mostly being held virtually.
Normally, the UN headquarters would be filled with world leaders and their representatives, who use the occasion to talk up their achievements and talk down their rivals, correspondents say.
Instead, figures like the US and Chinese president have provided pre-recorded speeches.
In his address at the UN building in New York, Mr Guterres said: “We are moving in a very dangerous direction.
“Our world cannot afford a future where the two largest economies split the globe in a great fracture – each with its own trade and financial rules and internet and artificial intelligence capacities.”
The US and China are at loggerheads on a number of issues, from trade to the coronavirus pandemic.
On the outbreak, Mr Guterres said: “The pandemic is a crisis unlike any we have ever seen. But it is also the kind of crisis that we will see in different forms again and again. Covid-19 is not only a wake-up call, it is a dress rehearsal for the world of challenges to come.”