Trump’s allegation of Chinese election meddling came as a surprise during a formal meeting around the Security Council’s horseshoe table that was expected to concentrate on the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
“They do not want me or us to win because I am the first president ever to challenge China on trade 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,” said Trump, who is attending the UN’s annual gathering of world leaders.
Trump himself is not up for re-election until 2020 but November’s voting will decide whether his Republican Party can keep control of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. Some opinion polls show that the Democratic Party could make a strong showing, notably in the House.
In the latest salvo in the trade dispute, US tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods and retaliatory taxes by Beijing on $60 billion worth of US products kicked in on Monday, unnerving global financial markets.
During his roughly 10-minute speech, Trump made no reference to US allegations against Russia concerning the election that brought him to power.
Speaking later to reporters, Trump said: “They (China) 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.”
Trump’s presidency has been dogged by the Russian issue, which led to an investigation by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller into potential collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign, which Trump rejects. Moscow denies interfering.