veered off topic to accuse China of meddling in the American mid-term elections.t the U.N. on Wednesday, Donald Trump, as has become his hallmark, hijacked what was supposed to be a conversation among adults about the maintenance of peace and security in order to take unprovoked pot shots at one of his interlocutors. Presiding over a Security Council meeting on the non-proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, Trump
“Regrettably, we found that China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election coming up in November against my administration,” Trump said to the chamber. “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.”
He cited no evidence to substantiate this claim, though it was likely an allusion to China’s latest retaliation against the U.S. in the intensifying trade war between the two countries. The most recent flurry of tariffs imposed on U.S. goods by China notably includes soybeans, which many experts interpret as a strategic move targeting the economic prospects of Trump’s predominantly rural base.
The Communist Party-owned China Daily took out a four-page advertisement in last Sunday’s Des Moines Register — perhaps the most influential newspaper in an electoral battleground state responsible for about 13 percent of U.S. soybean production — spotlighting the costs of these tariffs to American farmers. Trump lashed out on Twitter, calling the ad scheme “propaganda.”
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
Prompted for specific evidence of Chinese electoral interference at a subsequent press conference, Trump produced this eloquent evasion: “We have [it]. It will come out. Yeah, I can’t tell you now.”
Trump also confided in reporters that his once rosy relationship with Xi Jinping is now on the fritz.
“He may not be a friend of mine anymore,” Trump said. “But I think he probably respects me.”
This just five short months after Trump tweeted that his friendship with Xi, forged on a shared appreciation of chocolate cake and traditional Chinese song, ran deeper than statecraft, and less than 24 hours after a room of the world’s most decorated public servants practically laughed him off the stage for crowing that the accomplishments of his administration during the first half of his presidency are almost unparalleled in American history.
President Xi and I will always be friends, no matter what happens with our dispute on trade. China will take down its Trade Barriers because it is the right thing to do. Taxes will become Reciprocal & a deal will be made on Intellectual Property. Great future for both countries!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 8, 2018
“They weren’t laughing at me,” Trump said. “They were laughing with me.”