Chinese government interference in U.S. politics, media and business has reached an “unacceptable level,” a White House official said Wednesday.
Signaling that Washington’s trade war with Beijing has spilled into an ever-growing number of areas, the official, who asked not to be named, told journalists that China was deploying economic, military and informational tools to spread influence and to undermine the U.S. government.
“The activities have reached an unacceptable level,” he said. The official said the policy of “actively interfering in our political system includes hurting farmers in districts and states that voted for the president.”
He was referring to China’s imposition of tariffs on soybeans — a hugely important trade in the electorally crucial state of Iowa — as retaliation for Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods.
Trump picks fight with China at U.N. on trade, elections pic.twitter.com/MxgPcHnTUp
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) September 26, 2018
In New York on Wednesday, Trump accused China of working against his Republican Party in upcoming midterm elections, saying Beijing wants to see him suffer defeat because of his hard line on trade.
“Regrettably we found that China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election coming up in November against my administration,” Trump told a meeting of the United Nations Security Council.
“They do not want me or us to win because I am the first president ever to challenge China on trade.”
China is actually placing propaganda ads in the Des Moines Register and other papers, made to look like news. That’s because we are beating them on Trade, opening markets, and the farmers will make a fortune when this is over! pic.twitter.com/ppdvTX7oz1
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2018
The U.S. president spoke out, accusing China’s government of paying for newspaper space in Iowa to push its message.
“They don’t look like ads, they look like editorials and they’re not — they’re by China,” Trump said. “They don’t want me to get elected.”
Trump tweeted earlier that these “propaganda ads” are being placed “because we are beating them on Trade, opening markets.”
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi rejected what he termed as “unwarranted accusations.”
“China has all along followed the principle of non-interference,” Wang said in the same session, which was chaired by the U.S. president.
“We did not and will not interfere in any country’s domestic affairs. We refuse to accept any unwarranted accusations against China.”
— Ruptly (@Ruptly) September 26, 2018
The White House official said that China’s push for influence over the United States also targets “political candidates, depending on whether they criticize or support Chinese policies.”
He said that Chinese media organizations were used as fronts, while “some of these activities are actually covert.”
The Chinese government “employs cyber, it employs in some cases corruption and it employs propaganda,” he said.
Vice President Mike Pence is due to make a speech on the growing controversy next week.