"They don't want me or us to win because I am the first president to ever challenge China on trade," Trump told the United Nations Security Council.

By Daniel Herborn

Posted on September 27, 2018

“Regrettably, we found that China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election, coming up in November, against my administration,” Trump said.

“And we are winning on trade, we are winning at every level.”

Trump made the comments to the United Nations Security Council but did not elaborate on his claim nor offer evidence. He said the proof of Chinese interference would emerge at a later date. “It didn’t come out of nowhere,” he said. “They’ve actually admitted that they’re going after farmers.”

Despite his claims, Trump said that he liked China and President Xi a lot and that there was mutual respect as China admired his “very, very large brain”.

A senior Trump administration official later explained this alleged interference included state intimidation of academics and journalists, funding for government-controlled media outlets and influence operations aimed at increasing China’s influence in other nations.

China angrily denied Trump’s claims of election interference

In a press briefing, the official also accused China of punishing businesses, think tanks, film studios and political candidates who criticise Chinese policies.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Trump’s claims were “nonsense” and that “China has all along followed the principle of non-interference in other countries’ domestic affairs.”

“This is a tradition of Chinese foreign policy. We did not and will not interfere in any countries’ domestic affairs. We refuse to accept any unwarranted accusations against China.”

The US and China have been trading tariffs and retaliatory tariffs. In the most recent round of tariffs, the US imposed new levies on US$200 billion of Chinese goods. The Trump administration official also said China raising tariffs was part of its efforts to influence the mid-term elections.

Trump on China: “I don’t like it when they attack our farmers”

Trump later accused China of “placing propaganda ads” in newspapers. He tweeted a picture of the Des Moines Register showing a stand-alone supplement with an advertisement from the China Daily warning that Trump’s tariffs would be disastrous for Iowa farmers.

“I don’t like it when they attack our farmers,” Trump said. “And I don’t like it when they put out false messages. But besides that, we learned that they are trying to meddle in our elections and we’re not going to let that happen just as we’re not going to let that happen with Russia.”

Trump’s comments were a surprise to many involved in national security, including Jim Himes, a Democrat who is part of the House Intelligence Committee. “I haven’t received any briefing on this and would have if it was a serious threat,” he said. “If the president really wants to protect elections, there are many bipartisan bills he could support.”

Earlier in September, US Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said that US agencies were actively monitoring any attempts to influence the mid-term elections by drawing on the tactics employed by Russian agents in the 2016 presidential election though they had not uncovered that level of covert activity this time around.

Header image: Gage Skidmore