Beijing Watches Closely as US Votes in Midterm Elections

Intelligence operations try to advance greater strategy of political subversion
November 5, 2018 Updated: November 6, 2018

In the lead-up to the 2018 U.S. midterm elections, the Chinese communist regime has been intensively gathering information about the political process, a Taiwanese news agency reports.

Feeling the pressure of the Sino-U.S. trade war, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has never paid so much attention to an American midterm election as now, a source close to a Chinese diplomatic think tank told Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA) on Nov. 4.  

The source said that the Chinese Embassy in the United States, as well as Beijing’s five consulates in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Houston, divided the entire country into six areas for each to collect and process information about the elections on a daily basis and report their findings to higher authorities.

The consulates collect the information through pro-Beijing Chinese living in the United States, local associations, academic institutions, overseas Chinese associations, and the media. In addition to public media coverage and polling data, they also collect under-the-counter news through social networks, said the CNA report.

The CNA said despite the fact that Democratic and Republican parties are gradually finding common ground on the need to curb the CCP’s expansion, Beijing favors a Democrat victory in  the Senate and the House of Representatives, because this would encumber the Trump administration.

The Republicans currently enjoy slight majorities in the Senate and House of Representatives, but many legislative positions are up for contest, as well as governors in a number of battleground U.S. states.

The Chinese regime has done more than observe U.S. politics. Struggling under the Trump administration’s tariffs that were imposed on hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese goods earlier this year, the CCP deployed its English-language propaganda arm, China Daily, to run a four-page insert in the Des Moines Register, a large newspaper in Iowa.

The Sept. 23 insert featured articles slamming Trump’s trade policies for the impact of Chinese counter-tariffs, particularly those on the U.S. agricultural industry. Iowa is a rural state that voted for Trump in 2016.

“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!” President Donald Trump tweeted in response to the news.

At the meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Sept. 26, Trump directly accused Beijing of attempting to meddle in the midterms. “Regrettably, we found that China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election, coming up in November, against my administration,” Des Moines Register reported on Sept. 26, three days after it ran the insert.

According to an Oct. 1 analysis written by Epoch Times political commentator Xia Xiaoqiang, Trump won in the 2016 presidential election mainly because of support of agricultural areas such as Iowa. For this reason, China is putting tariffs on its copious imports of U.S. agricultural goods, particularly soybeans, in a bid to sway those states against Trump.

Xia believes that these attempts are likely to be perceived as Chinese political subversion, and might backfire on Beijing by causing the American people to rally against its interference.