UNITED NATIONS — President Donald Trump on Wednesday accused the Chinese government of interfering in the U.S. midterm elections in efforts to thwart his presidency.
"They do not want me — or us — to win," he said.
China denied the charge.
Trump made the allegation in opening a United Nations Security Council briefing that he was chairing for the first time, then repeated it later in the day on Twitter and to reporters.
The UN event was to be focused on counter-proliferation.
“Regrettably, we found that China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election coming up in November against my administration,” Trump told fellow world leaders. He said Beijing is doing so “because I am the first president ever to challenge China on trade. And we are winning on trade. We are winning at every level.”
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, seated at the table with Trump, vehemently rejected the allegation when it was his turn to speak.
“We refuse to accept any unwarranted accusations against China,” Wang said.
"China has all along followed the principle of noninterference in other countries' domestic affairs,” Wang said. “This is a tradition of Chinese foreign policy.”
Trump during the meeting did not mention Russian interference in the United States’ 2016 elections – the subject of an ongoing special counsel probe – or what U.S. intelligence officials have said will be the Kremlin’s continued efforts to disrupt American democracy in upcoming races.
The Security Council briefing also was attended also by British Minister Theresa May, French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. It touched on nuclear aspirations by Iran and North Korea.
Trump told reporters Wednesday there was “plenty of evidence” of Chinese interference and said he had a “great relationship” with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
He said during a wide-ranging news conference at a midtown Manhattan hotel that he sought to strike a fairer trade deal with China and that trade should be a "two-way street." He joked that the Chinese government must be "doing studies on Donald Trump" because no American president has been as harsh with them.
He doubled-down on his allegation in an afternoon tweet.
“China is actually placing propaganda ads in the Des Moines Register and other papers, made to look like news,” he posted alongside images of the publication. “That’s because we are beating them on Trade, opening markets, and the farmers will make a fortune when this is over!”
A senior Trump administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Beijing is targeting farmers and workers in U.S. areas that supported Trump in 2016. The official said Vice President Mike Pence will address the matter in a speech set for next week in Washington.
As he did during his address Tuesday before the UN General Assembly, Trump during the Security Council meeting had harsh words for Iran but was more diplomatic about North Korea.
He cited his decision in May to withdraw the U.S. from the 2015 Iran denuclearization deal.
“In the years since the deal was signed, Iran's aggression only increased,” Trump said. “The regime used new funds from the deal to support terrorism, build nuclear-capable missiles, and foment chaos.”
Trump then repeated that the U.S. is making more progress with Pyongyang.
“We have seen the results of historic efforts to open new pathways to peace on . . . the Korean Peninsula. And that's something we are extremely proud of,” said Trump. “I am pleased to say that North Korea has not conducted a missile test since last November.”
Trump voiced confidence that a nuclear deal will be brokered with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, with whom Trump is planning a second summit.