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Chinese government interference in US politics, media and business has reached an ‘unacceptable level,’ a White House official said Wednesday.
Signalling that Washington’s trade war with Beijing has spilled into an ever growing number of areas, the official, who asked not to be named, told journalists that China was deploying economic, military and informational tools to spread influence and to undermine the US government.
‘The activities have reached an unacceptable level,’ he said.
The official said the policy of ‘actively interfering in our political system includes hurting farmers in districts and states that voted for the president.’
He was referring to China’s imposition of tariffs on soybeans – a hugely important trade in the electorally crucial state of Iowa – as retaliation for Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods.
In New York on Wednesday, Trump also spoke out, accusing China’s government of paying for newspaper space in Iowa to push its message.
‘They don’t look like ads, they look like editorials and they’re not – they’re by China,’ Trump said. ‘They don’t want me to get elected.’
Trump tweeted earlier that these ‘propaganda ads’ are being placed ‘because we are beating them on Trade, opening markets.’
The White House official said that China’s push for influence over the United States also targets ‘political candidates, depending on whether they criticize or support Chinese policies.’
He said that Chinese media organizations were used as fronts, while ‘some of these activities are actually covert.’
The Chinese government ’employs cyber, it employs in some cases corruption and it employs propaganda,’ he said.
Vice President Mike Pence is due to make a speech on the growing controversy next week.