President Trump alleged at the UN Security Council this morning that China is meddling in the upcoming midterm elections to fire back at him in a trade-war salvo.
“Regrettably, we found 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 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,” Trump said at a UNSC session designated to discuss counterproliferation.
Trump did not elaborate on the claim, though it’s something the administration has stated before. Five weeks ago, National Security Advisor John Bolton told ABC that there’s “a sufficient national security concern about Chinese meddling, Iranian meddling and North Korean meddling that we’re taking steps to try and prevent.”
The president had tweeted the previous day, “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!”
FBI Director Christopher Wray said in July at the Aspen Security Forum that Russia remains the “most aggressive actor” in malign campaign influence operations targeting the United States. He stressed that Russian midterm operations were “very active” and “aimed at sowing discord and divisiveness in this country.” Trump has not mentioned Russian campaign interference in his UN addresses.
The Trump administration has levied $250 billion in tariffs on China, Trump told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday. China’s retaliatory tariffs amount to about $113 billion in U.S. goods. The most recent round of tariffs applied to U.S. goods imported by China, including smoked salmon and honey, went into effect Monday.
“I have great respect and affection for my friend President Xi. But I have made clear our trade imbalance is just not acceptable. China’s market distortions and the way they deal cannot be tolerated,” Trump said. “As my administration has demonstrated, America will always act in our national interest.”
China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang responded at a press conference today that “the large trade deficit that the United States has with other countries and the loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs are the result of the shortage of savings in the United States.”
“It is the result of changes in the international division of labor and the production layout of multinational companies as well as using the U.S. dollar as a major international currency. It is also an objective reflection of the complementary comparative advantages of the industries in the United States and those in other countries. It makes no sense to only blame China for the trade deficit and job losses, or attribute them to China’s entry into the WTO,” he said, adding “it is not strange and also inevitable for our two countries to have some trade differences and frictions.”