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Trump Accuses China of Interfering in Midterm Elections

UNITED NATIONS — President Trump accused China on Wednesday of interfering in the midterm elections to damage him politically because of his tough tactics on trade.

Speaking at the United Nations Security Council, where he was presiding, Mr. Trump said, “They do not want me or us to win, because I am the first president to ever challenge China on trade.”

Mr. Trump has accused the Chinese of election meddling before, but never so bluntly or in such a high-profile international setting. He offered no evidence of how China might be interfering, or of whether its tactics went beyond trying to influence an increasingly bitter trade war.

Previously, Mr. Trump has accused the Chinese of aiming tariffs at American farmers and other politically sensitive constituencies in states that support him. He tweeted last week that China was “actively trying to impact and change our election by attacking our farmers, ranchers and industrial workers because of their loyalty to me.”

China stiffly denied Mr. Trump’s accusation. “We did not, and will not, interfere in any country’s domestic affairs,” the Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, said during his speech before the Council. “We refuse to accept any unwarranted accusations.”

[Read our live updates on the United Nations General Assembly, including a Security Council briefing that President Trump is chairing.]

Close allies of the United States have also responded to Mr. Trump’s protectionist trade policies with carefully targeted tariffs designed to put political pressure on Washington.

After the Trump administration imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports earlier this year, Canada, Mexico and the European Union drew up lists of retaliatory tariffs focusing on politically important states that are part of Mr. Trump’s base. The tariffs targeted industries in the home states of many in the Republican leadership.

Mexico levied duties on cheese, which was expected to hit hard in Wisconsin, the home state of Representative Paul D. Ryan, the House speaker. Canada and Mexico imposed tariffs on whiskey, a popular export from Kentucky, the home state of the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell.

The European Union placed tariffs on Harley-Davidson motorcycles, also produced in Wisconsin.

Mr. Trump said nothing in his Security Council remarks about Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, which included a sophisticated campaign of manipulating social media and the release of hacked emails.

He did fault Russia, along with Iran, for enabling the “butchery” of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, though he also thanked the countries for agreeing to suspend, at least temporarily, their assault on the rebel stronghold of Idlib to avert a humanitarian crisis.

Elisabeth Malkin contributed reporting from Mexico City and Catherine Porter from Toronto.

Source: NYT > World

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