President Trump on Wednesday directly accused China of interfering in the U.S. midterm elections this fall in retaliation for the ongoing trade war between Washington and Beijing, marking a new front in the deepening hostilities that have threatened to upend bilateral relations. The president made the allegation during his opening remarks at a U.N. Security Council meeting on nonproliferation, asserting that China “has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election, coming up in November, against my administration. They do not want me or us to win because I am the first president to ever challenge China on trade, and we are winning on trade — we are winning on every level. We don’t want them to meddle or interfere in our upcoming election.”
Trump presented no evidence for his claims, and his top national security advisers told reporters in August they had not found specific examples of interference ahead of the midterms from countries other than Russia, though they warned it remained a possibility. In his remarks at the Security Council meeting, Trump made no mention of Russian interference, though he did say later that his administration also will not let Moscow interfere in the elections.
Afterward, in a hastily arranged media call intended to explain the president’s remarks, a senior administration official said China has hurt “farmers and workers in states and districts that voted for the president because he stood up to the ways China has taken advantage of our country economically.” The official added that the activities include “targeting certain districts and states with tariffs, but go beyond that.” He did not elaborate.