Trump accuses China of meddling in 2018 midterm elections in UN security council speech

'They don't want me to win because I challenged them on trade,' Mr Trump said

Mythili Sampathkumar
New York
Wednesday 26 September 2018 17:44 BST
Donald Trump accuses China of interfering in 2018 midterm elections

Donald Trump has accused China of interfering in the upcoming US midterm elections, but left out any mention of Russia whose alleged election meddling is the subject of a probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

The US leader was speaking at the UN Security Council meeting during the General Assembly in New York.

He characterised the alleged "meddling" in the elections set to take place on 6 November as "against my administration," adding: “they do not want me or us to win because I am the first president to challenge China on trade".

"We are winning on trade. We are winning at every level. We don't want them to meddle or interfere in our upcoming election," Mr Trump continued, without offering any proof of his accusation against Beijing.

The US intelligence community has also not made public any evidence of the matter. Last month, US National Security Adviser John Bolton told ABC News Russia, North Korea, Iran, and China are all potential election hackers: "I can say definitively that it's a sufficient national security concern about Chinese meddling, Iranian meddling and North Korean meddling that we're taking steps to try to prevent it, so it's all four of those countries, really".

He also did not offer evidence of the claim at the time.

Defence Secretary James Mattis says Iran is going to be held accountable

China has denied any wrongdoing when it came to American electoral systems and the 2018 elections. "China has all along followed the principle of non-interference in domestic affairs. We did not and will not interfere in ANY country's internal affairs," Wang Yi, the foreign minister said.

The president, however, made no mention of Russia in this portion of his remarks as the FBI investigation into alleged collusion between Russian officials and the president's campaign team continues.

It was also determined by the majority of US intelligence agencies Russia did indeed hack the 2016 US election and the Trump administration has also issued sanctions of individuals and entities for doing so.

Mr Trump later elaborated on his charge, tweeting China placed "propaganda ads" made to look like news articles in an Iowa newspaper.

Iowa has been historically been treated as a good indicator of who will win presidential elections.

"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!,” he wrote.

The president has not explained what “beating” China at trade means and the White House has not immediately responded to a request for comment.

The current US Ambassador to China is Terry Brandstad, the former governor of Iowa.

The meeting was actually being held for an entirely different purpose - to discuss the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, particularly concerning Iran and the nuclear deal Mr Trump had refused to re-certify earlier this year.

The meeting comes just a day after Mr Trump's harsh criticism of President Hassan Rouhani and the regime in Tehran in front of the whole General Assembly.

Donald Trump calls on nations to isolate Iran's regime at United Nations

“Iran’s leaders sow chaos, death and destruction,” Mr Trump said yesterday during a speech experts told The Independent was "bleak" and "dark" but altogether less bombastic than his previous appearance at the UN podium.

Echoing those statements in today's appearance in front of the Security Council, Mr Trump said Iran "exports violence, terror, and turmoil" and are the "world's leading sponsor of terror".

He also called the Iran nuclear deal, signed in 2015 as one of the signature foreign policy achievements by President Barack Obama, "horrible" and "one-sided" - a common way Mr Trump describes many multilateral and bilateral agreements of which the US was or is part. 

Mr Trump said the nuclear deal was giving the regime a lifeline - they were "in big big trouble, they needed cash. We gave it to them." 

Naysan Rafati, an Iran analyst at the International Crisis Group, told The Independent the theme of the administration this entire time at the UN General Assembly was consistent with his remarks today - the the "deal is flawed". 

However, he noted it was "striking to see that [Mr Trump's] view remains a minority view in the Security Council," as several countries including Russia, the UK, and France - parties to the Iran nuclear deal - said the opposite. 

Other countries see the deal as "a stepping stone...a starting point for continued engagement with Tehran" as does Mr Rouhani, Mr Rafati said. 

Me Rafati explained UK Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron, among others, see the agreement as “something to build upon rather than something to tear down”. 

He noted the administration’s approach has been taken in the hopes that harsh sanctions - particularly the energy-related kind set to take effect in November, will “prompt the regime to come back to the [negotiating] table.” 

The Iranian people taking to the streets in protest over economic conditions and a currency devaluation are effects the Trump administration are hoping will push Mr Rouhani and the regime to compromise, Mr Rafati said. 

Iran’s stance is that “you’re the ones who left the table, not us,” he said. 

The government is hoping to “muddle through” economic turmoil while staying compliant with the terms of the nuclear deal and continuing discussions with the rest of the parties to the agreement, Mr Rafati explained. 

However, Brian Hook, the US State Department Special Representative to Iran said the president is pushing other countries to follow the US path of isolating Tehran. 

He told The Independent during a briefing that European and Asian corporations and the private sector have already been pulling out of Iran, which could compel their governments to do the same.

"The truth is, the private sector understands sanctions," Mr Hook said. 

"They have a choice to do business with the US or business with Iran...and they're making a business decision," Mr Hook said, noting deals with the US and American partners far outweigh anything with Iran financially. 

Mr Hook said the Trump administration has not had any private discussions with diplomats regarding negotiations with Iran, "we have said everything publicly". 

The State Department has also issued a report - with the telling title of "Outlaw Regime" - detailing all the various actions of the regime the Trump administration has opposed. 

Mr Hook noted one of the points of contentions is the regime's "ruining" of the environment and killing of protesters wanting "clean air, clean water, and [arable land". 

The point drew some laughter from the gathered journalists given Mr Trump's own controversial stance on the American environment, pushing to deregulate carbon emissions and beginning the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change.

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