NEW YORK—President Donald Trump accused the Chinese regime of attempting to interfere in the upcoming midterm elections during his address at the U.N. Security Council meeting Sept. 26.
“They do not want me, or us, to win because I am the first president ever to challenge China on trade,” Trump said. “And we are winning on trade. We are winning at every level. We don’t want them to meddle or interfere in our upcoming election.”
Not long after the Security Council meeting, Trump posted photos on Twitter of a top newspaper in Iowa that had published a four-page editorial insert by China’s state-run media China Daily—an attempt to influence public opinion over the trade dispute with China.
“China is actually placing propaganda ads in the Des Moines Register and other papers, made to look like news,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “That’s because we are beating them on Trade, opening markets, and the farmers will make a fortune when this is over!”
Trump provided more detail during comments to reporters prior to his meeting with Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
“You have statements made that they’re going to hit our farmers, who are my voters,” Trump said of the insert. “China is going and attacking the farm belt, our farmers. … It looks like they’re editorials and they’re not. They’re made up by China, because they don’t want me to get elected, because this has never happened to them.”
Trump said the current $250 billion package of tariffs levied against China-made goods is hurting China. China has retaliated in part by targeting America’s soybean industry, which provides 40 percent of China’s soybeans.
Soybean prices have slid at least 12 points since the beginning of the trade dispute in early April, hurting U.S. farmers.
“I don’t like it when they attack our farmers, and I don’t like it when they put out false messages,” Trump said. “But beside that, we learned that they are trying to meddle in our elections. And we’re not going to let that happen, just as we’re not going to let that happen with Russia.”
The Art of War
Cyber expert and CEO of Black Ops Partners Casey Fleming said China is taking a leaf out of Russia’s playbook “to hack and infiltrate the U.S. elections; to manipulate them, to create havoc, and to create contention among the left and the right; to create instability in the United States.”
Fleming said China has upped the ante on “everything short of war” in direct response to Trump’s tariffs.
Aside from using cyber warfare, China is doubling down on its propaganda and information warfare to create fake news and skew what’s really going on.
“They’re talking about how Trump’s the bad man now and he’s got the knife at our throat,” Fleming said.
Fleming said China’s strategy—to employ everything short of conventional warfare—is very stealth.
“China’s entire operation is to be stealth and to cloak it underneath standard business practices,” he said. “And when they get caught, they use plausible deniability, saying, ‘Oh we didn’t know that guy,’ or ‘He doesn’t work for us,’ or ‘You must be mistaken.’ And they gaslight us: ‘You’re confused, it’s all you.’”
During the Security Council meeting, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi responded to Trump’s accusation by denying any interference.
“China has, all along, followed the principle of non-interference in other countries’ domestic affairs. This is a tradition of Chinese foreign policy,” Wang said.
“We did not and will not interfere in any country’s domestic affairs. We refuse to accept any unwarranted accusations against China.”
Fleming said Wang’s response is “absolute deception, which is a fundamental element of asymmetrical warfare … [and] it’s managed by plausible deniability.”
A senior White House official said in a call with reporters on Sept. 26 that the Chinese regime’s interference has reached an “unacceptable level.”
The official said the Chinese Communist Party uses a whole-of-government approach in its United Front work, which is the party’s soft power and propaganda arm.
“China punishes or rewards businessmen, think tanks, movie studios, journalists, religious leaders, and even political candidates—depending on whether they criticize or support China’s policies,” the official said.
He said more information regarding China’s activities will be declassified in the near future and Vice President Mike Pence plans to speak about it in more detail next week.
Fleming said Trump is doing what he can—within legal and political limits—to protect the U.S. economy and national security.
“At the same time … I think he is preventing, or at least holding off, a near-term war with China—actual conventional war with China,” Fleming said.
“And he’s using his method short of war … which is the trade imbalance, to hit China economically, to take the wind out of their sails and their extreme aggression against dominating the United States.”
The Trump administration has made moves to curb China’s influence, including a recent requirement that Chinese state-run media organizations that are operating in the United States register as foreign agents.
The senior administration official said state-run Chinese news organizations have long pretended to be legitimate, normal news organizations.
Trump also signed a new National Cyber Strategy on Sept. 20 that called out China for engaging in “cyber-enabled economic espionage and trillions of dollars of intellectual property theft.”
According to data by the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property (also known as the IP Commission), theft of trade secrets costs the U.S. economy $180 billion to $540 billion annually.
In a July report by Chinese regime mouthpiece Xinhua, a spokeswoman for China’s foreign affairs, Hua Chunying said, “Innovation and intellectual property should serve the progress and well-being of humanity, and not be reduced to being a tool for the U.S. to suppress other countries’ development and protect/defend its personal gains.”
Fleming said it’s time businesses and the general public realized the extent and the seriousness of China’s true intentions: to rule the world.
“It is about world domination and it’s about permanent control,” he said.
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