Is China ‘meddling’ in the US elections?
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Is China ‘meddling’ in the US elections?

US President Donald Trump used his first chairmanship of the United Nations Security Council to make explosive accusations against China, claiming the trade rival is “meddling” in America’s upcoming mid-term elections in an attempt to swing the vote in favour of the opposing Democrats.

The accusation was met by bemusement and confusion by the Chinese delegates who sat across the table from Trump. After a brief huddle with aides, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi refuted the claims, calling them “unwarranted.”

“China has all along followed the principle of non-interference,” Wang said.

“We did not and will not interfere in any country’s domestic affairs. We refuse to accept any unwarranted accusations against China.”

With conflicting arguments coming from each side, where does the truth lie and where have these accusations come from?

Where does the truth lie?

It’s hard to say exactly where the truth lies with the information available.

White House struggled to give any concrete evidence when questioned by reporters after the security council meeting.

At a press conference later in the day, when pushed for proof, Trump cited a Chinese-funded advertisement that appeared in a US newspaper.

Trump claims the advert was placed in the Iowa newspaper – a battleground state for the Republicans – to sway voters against his trade policies.

SEE ALSO: US-China Trade: Are we heading for the next cold war?

The Chinese do not deny the advert appeared, or that it was funded by the Chinese government – this is openly available information. According to the BBC, they insist it is perfectly acceptable that they should be allowed to argue the benefits of US-China trade to some of the people it affects the most – Iowan soybean farmers.

The friction between Washington and Beijing is borne out of the escalating trade war that has seen the White House impose tariffs on US$250 billion worth of Chinese goods.

Surely this can’t all be about an advert in Iowa… Does it go deeper?

Much like Russia, China is more than capable of interfering in a US election; but that far from means they did.

Non-interventionism is central to its “Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence” that drives Beijing’s foreign policy, citing “non-interference in each other’s internal affairs.”

But US Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, believes the Chinese have gravely flaunted this premise.

At a Tuesday conference about China’s online activities, he claimed President Xi Jinping’s government has been “among the most active foreign states conducting cyber activities against United States interests.”

“The Chinese government uses all of the capabilities at their disposal to influence US policies, spread propaganda, manipulate the media and pressure individuals, including students, critical of Chinese policies,” he said, as reported by the BBC.

2018-09-26T144108Z_2053802111_HP1EE9Q14SJB1_RTRMADP_3_USA-IRAN-UN

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres (L) looks on as U.S. President Donald Trump gavels open a meeting of the United Nations Security Council held during the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 26, 2018. Source: Reuters/Eduardo Munoz

National Security Adviser John Bolton echoed these sentiments, telling ABC News that Chinese “meddling” was a “sufficient national security concern.”

In the same interview, Bolton listed three other countries alongside China as perpetrators of election tampering. Among them was Russia, who has been proven to have influenced the 2016 general election – of which Trump was the victor – by disseminated pro-Trump propaganda and fake news in the months prior.

Despite Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov also being present at the UN meeting, there was a conspicuous silence from Trump on the issue. Something that will no doubt please Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The lack of acknowledgment from Trump will once again ring alarms bells with those in America concerned with collusion between the Russian government and the Trump administration. It may raise questions as to why Trump only seems concerned with election meddling when it doesn’t work in his favour.