US President Donald Trump launched a forceful and lengthy attack on China over its trade policies during his address to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, and urged restraint from Beijing in its handling of ongoing protests in Hong Kong. The past two decades had proven “completely wrong” the theory that China’s accession to the World Trade Organisation in 2001 would lead to a liberalisation of its economy, the strengthening of protections of private property and the rule of law, said Trump, speaking on the first day of the international body’s annual general debate in New York. “Not only has China declined to adopt promised reforms, it has embraced an economic model dependent on massive market barriers, heavy state subsidies, currency manipulation, product dumping, forced technology transfers and the theft of intellectual property and also trade secrets on a grand scale,” Trump said as delegates from China looked on. Trump used the example of a Chinese state-owned company’s alleged theft of US memory chip maker Micron’s designs to argue that China’s pursuit of economic growth was coming at the expense of US interests. “But we are seeking justice,” he said. Trump also took shots at the WTO, saying the organisation needed “drastic change” and that China, as the world’s second largest economy, “should not be permitted to declare itself a developing country in order to game the system at others’ expense”. Trump’s remarks came as the world’s two biggest economies remain locked in a dispute over trade that is soon to enter its 16th month. Nuclear weapons deal easier to negotiate than trade pact, Trump warned In the coming weeks, negotiators from China will travel to Washington for a round of high-level talks aimed at closing the gap between the two countries on issues including intellectual property protection, market access and technology transfer. The US government is expected to raise tariffs on US$250 billion of Chinese goods from 25 to 30 per cent on October 15. Soon before Trump took to the podium in the general assembly hall, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned of the risks of a fracture in the international community “with the two largest economies on Earth creating two separate and competing worlds, [each] with their own dominant currency trade and financial rules, their own internet and artificial intelligence capacities and their own zero-sum, geopolitical and military strategies”. Deal must come soon or Trump will escalate trade war, top adviser warns The international community must do “everything possible to avert the great fracture”, Guterres told the general assembly, calling for respect for international law and the upkeep of strong multilateral institutions. In jarring contrast, Trump used his speech to urge leaders around the world to reject globalism, saying, “the future does not belong to globalists; the future belongs to patriots”. China, which seeks to build a reputation within the UN as an upholder of multilateralism, was likely to view such statements as “a gift”, said Bonnie Glaser, senior adviser for Asia at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “The Chinese have been portraying themselves as the champions of globalisation for some time,” Glaser said, adding that Beijing saw itself as being in a much better position at the UN than the US, which has withdrawn from the body’s human rights council. Trump has also vowed to take the US out of the Paris Agreement on climate change. Under the rules of the agreement, America cannot leave the deal until November 4, 2020 – the day after the next US presidential election. China seeking moral high ground with WTO complaint against latest US tariffs Devoting over four minutes of his speech to China, the US leader’s address to the UN General Assembly – his third as president – marked a significant escalation from his remarks on China last year at the same event. At that time, he used the platform to briefly call out Beijing’s trade practices but also heaped praise on Chinese President Xi Jinping. Glaser said Trump’s attack on Beijing may represent efforts to ratchet up US pressure on the Chinese government ahead of the high-level talks on trade. “Trump may recognise that this is the last opportunity to get the big deal that he wants with China,” Glaser said. “It’s going to be very difficult if this set of talks falls apart, I think, to restart those in the near term.” But such public pressure on Beijing tended to be counterproductive, she said, adding that Xi would be unwilling to be seen as “caving into to US pressure”. US, Japan working towards signing trade deal but does it do enough? On Tuesday, Trump also said his government was “carefully monitoring” the situation in Hong Kong, where weeks-long anti-government protests have continued to see violent clashes between demonstrators and local police. “The world fully expects that the Chinese government will honour its binding treaty made with the British and registered with the United Nations in which China commits to protect Hong Kong’s freedom, legal system and democratic ways of life,” Trump said. He added that how China chose to handle the situation would “say a great deal about its role in the world in the future”. Glaser predicted that raising the issue of Hong Kong from the podium of the UN General Assembly would be of greater concern to China than trade issues, given the sensitive state of the unrest in the city. “The Chinese believe that there is a potential for a sort of gradual defusing of the situation,” she said. “And this could make things flare again, because the protesters and the activists could perceive that they have US support and this could embolden them. I think China’s going to be very unhappy about that.” Striking students ‘indoctrinated with police hatred’, Pansy Ho tells UN Beyond Trump’s speech, the US government put further pressure on Beijing elsewhere on Tuesday, cohosting a panel discussion on the “human rights crisis in Xinjiang” attended by representatives from over 30 governments. Moderated by Trump’s special envoy for religious freedom around the world, Samuel Brownback, the event featured testimony from Uygurs who had either experienced the Chinese government’s mass internment camps in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region or had relatives in Xinjiang with whom they had lost all contact. Beijing called the event an attempt by the US to “smear” China’s policies in Xinjiang and interfere in the country’s internal affairs.