Donald Trump hotel
Olivier Douliery/Pool via Bloomberg

During a meeting of the U.N. Security Council yesterday, President Trump claimed, without evidence, that China is meddling in the 2018 U.S. midterm elections to punish the Republican Party for his anti-China policies.

 

“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,” Trump said. “We don’t want them to meddle or interfere in our upcoming election.”

 

The White House recently announced that $200 billion in tariffs Trump proposed against imported Chinese goods would go into effect. They join $50 billion in tariffs Trump levied against China earlier this year. They are expected to raise consumer prices on a wide range of goods, from food, beverages and personal-care items to bicycles and furniture.

 

Later on Wednesday, Trump tweeted what he indicated was backup for his assertion: A photo of a four-page insert in Sunday's Des Moines Register newspaper placed by The China Daily, a state-owned Chinese media outlet. "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!” the president’s tweet read.

 

The Register responded by saying it was not surprising that China bought the ad — which was labeled "Sponsored by China Daily" at the top — because “the Register is Iowa’s largest news organization and Iowa farmers are disproportionately affected by China’s tariffs."

"Foreign organizations and governments placing advertising, op-eds, or sponsored content in U.S. media to promote their interests is nothing new," noted New York magazine. "Countries Trump approves of — such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Israel — do this all the time."

Also on Wednesday, a senior Trump administration official told reporters that China is trying to influence U.S. public opinion.“They employ a whole of government approach using political, economic, commercial, military and informational tools,” said the official on the condition of anonymity, Reuters reported. “The activities have reached an unacceptable level.”

Although U.S. intelligence has pinpointed China as a potential election-meddling threat, they have not reported concrete examples of meddling.