US President Donald Trump accused China of seeking to meddle in the November 6 US congressional elections, saying Beijing didn’t want his Republican Party to do well because of his hardline stance on trade.
“China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election, coming up in November. Against my administration,” Trump told a UN Security Council meeting – the subject of which was non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Trump did not provide any evidence on Wednesday for his allegation, which he made while chairing the council meeting.
China rejected the charge.
“We did not and will not interfere in any country’s domestic affairs. We refuse to accept any unwarranted accusations against China,” top diplomat Wang Yi told the Security Council.
Trump’s focus on China and his allegation of election meddling came as a surprise during a formal meeting around the Security Council’s iconic horseshoe, which was expected to concentrate on the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
“They do not want me or us to win because I am the first president ever to challenge China on trade and we are winning on trade, we are winning at every level. We don’t want them to meddle or interfere in our upcoming election,” said Trump, who is attending the UN’s annual gathering of world leaders.
During his roughly 10-minute speech, Trump made no reference to US allegations that Russia meddled in the 2016 US election that brought him to power.
Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst, said Trump’s accusations against China were aimed at the American audience with elections fast approaching.
“He ignored the whole inquiry into Russian interference in the US presidential elections, instead he brought up the unsubstantiated accusations of China meddling in the next elections on the side of the Democrats,” said Bishara.
“For the Chinese, it sounds so ridiculous that they won’t respond to it. President Trump is talking on one hand to the international community, but on the other, he’s talking to his home base – his core of the Republican Party.”
Trump himself is not up for re-election until 2020 but November’s voting will decide whether his Republican Party can keep control of the US House of Representatives and the Senate. Some opinion polls show the Democratic Party could make a strong showing, notably in the House.
The United States and China are embroiled in a trade war, sparked by Trump’s accusations that Beijing has long sought to steal US intellectual property, limit access to its own market and unfairly subsidise state-owned companies.
In the latest salvo, US tariffs on $200bn worth of Chinese goods and retaliatory taxes by Beijing on $60bn worth of US products kicked in on Monday, unnerving global financial markets.