- President Donald Trump on Wednesday accused China of attempting to interfere in the 2018 midterms.
- “They do not want me or us to win, because I am the first president ever to challenge China on trade,” Trump said at a meeting of the UN Security Council in New York.
- Trump has been increasingly critical of China in recent months amid ongoing disagreements over trade.
- The president’s advisers have said that Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea are all countries potential culprits in the attempted interference.
President Donald Trump on Wednesday accused China of attempting to interfere in the 2018 midterm elections.
“China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election … against my administration,” Trump said in an address to world leaders as the chair of a UN Security Council (UNSC) meeting in New York.
He added, “They do not want me or us to win, because I am the first president ever to challenge China on trade.”
JUST IN: President Trump asserts that "China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election" because, as he asserts, "they do not want me, or us, to win, because" he is challenging China on trade. pic.twitter.com/EcQ9s4A542
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) September 26, 2018
This is not the first time the Trump administration has called out Beijing over election interference. However, raising the issue at such a high-profile meeting marks a major escalation of such criticism. China is one of the five permanent members of the UNSC.
China’s foreign minister addressed Trump’s allegations before the UNSC and denied China is working to interfere in the 2018 midterms, adding that Beijing refuses to accept “any unwarranted accusations” against it.
Subsequently, Trump claimed in a tweet China is placing propaganda in US newspapers.
‘China exploits our transparency and open society’
Trump’s comments come a day after Dan Coats, the US Director of National Intelligence, described China’s cyber espionage activities against the US as “unprecedented in scale.”
“From its continued hacking of our defence secrets to its focus on collecting vast repositories of personal and personality-identifying information to better enable espionage activities, China exploits our transparency and open society,”Coats said in remarks at The Citadel, a military college in South Carolina.
National Security Adviser John Bolton in August issued similar warnings about China’s activities, while also criticising Russia, North Korea, and Iran.
“I can say definitively that it’s a sufficient national security concern about Chinese meddling, Iranian meddling, and North Korean meddling that we’re taking steps to try and prevent it,” Bolton said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Bolton said that Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea are the “four countries that we’re most concerned about” when it comes to the 2018 elections.
Trump has been less critical of Russian election interference
Bolton’s comments in August came just several days after Trump tweeted: “All of the fools that are so focused on looking only at Russia should start also looking in another direction, China. But in the end, if we are smart, tough and well prepared, we will get along with everyone!”
In September, Trump tweeted: “China has openly stated that they are actively trying to impact and change our election by attacking our farmers, ranchers and industrial workers because of their loyalty to me.”
Trump’s recent condemnation of China has been sharper in tone than many of his statements toward Russia about election interference.
The president has at times expressed scepticism over whether Russia interfered in the 2016 US presidential election, a subject that remains a thorn in Trump’s side.
Trump was broadly criticised after he appeared to side with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the US intelligence community on the subject when they met in Helsinki, Finland, in July.
But the president’s top advisers have warned consistently warned that Russia is engaged in ongoing efforts to interfere in US elections.
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