ADDS ADDITIONAL TRUMP, SENIOR OFFICIAL COMMENTS
By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday accused China of attempting to interfere in the upcoming November midterm elections over trade disputes with his administration.
"They do not want me or us to win because I am the first president ever to challenge China on trade," he said while chairing a UN Security Council session. "We don't want them to meddle or interfere in our upcoming election."
The president did not offer evidence to support his claim.
His comments are the first the U.S. has explicitly said China is seeking to "meddle" in the pending polls. He did not mention a sweeping campaign U.S. intelligence agencies have blamed on Russia, which they determined sought to sway the 2016 presidential election in Trump's favor.
China's Foreign Minister adamantly denied the claim in remarks to the Security Council. He maintaining Beijing "has all along followed the principle of non interference in other countries’ domestic affairs."
"We do not and will not interfere in any countries’ domestic affairs," Wang Yi said. "We refuse to accept any unwarranted accusations against China, and we call upon other countries to also observe the purposes of the UN charter and not to interfere in other countries’ internal affairs."
Trump began a trade war with China earlier this year over Washington's trade deficit with Beijing, which stood at $375.6 billion in 2017.
Trump previously accused China of targeting its retaliatory tariffs on constituencies vital to his party, such as farmers. It was unclear from his comments if he was referring to those efforts or a campaign similar to those blamed on Russia, which is commonly referred to as "election meddling."
A senior U.S. administration official said in addition to "hurting farmers and workers in states and districts that voted for the president," Beijing is pursuing a "coordinated effort" that includes covert operations.
"It employs cyber, it employs in some cases corruption, and it employs propaganda," said the official.
*Umar Farooq contributed to this story