U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday accused China of seeking to meddle in the Nov. 6 U.S. congressional elections, saying Beijing did not want his Republican Party to do well because of his pugnacious stance on trade.
"China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election, coming up in November. Against my administration," Trump told a U.N. Security Council meeting whose ostensible subject was nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Trump, chairing the Council for the first time since becoming U.S. president, did not provide any evidence for his allegation, which China immediately rejected during the same meeting.
"We did not and will not interfere in any country's domestic affairs. We refuse to accept any unwarranted accusations against China," China's top diplomat Wang Yi told the Council.
The United States and China are embroiled in a trade war, sparked by Trump's accusations that China has long sought to steal U.S. intellectual property, limit access to its own market and unfairly subsidize state-owned companies.
Later on Wednesday, Trump referred to a Chinese government-run media company's four-page supplement in the Sunday Des Moines Register promoting the mutual benefits of U.S.-China trade. The practice of foreign governments buying space in U.S. papers to promote trade is common and differs from a clandestine operation run by a national intelligence agency.
"China is actually placing propaganda ads in the Des Moines Register and other papers, made to look like news," Trump said in a Twitter post.
Then a senior Trump administration official said China uses political, economic, commercial, military and information tools to influence U.S. public opinion and promote the interests of the Chinese government and Communist Party.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence plans to make a speech next week detailing the allegations, said the official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity, adding that the U.S. government was working to declassify further information on the matter.