US President Donald Trump on Tuesday accused China of seeking to influence knife-edge midterm congressional elections, by taking aim at his political support base in the economic giants’ rapidly escalating trade war.
The allegation added an explosive new element to the dispute after Trump pulled the trigger late Monday on 10 per cent tariffs against another $200 billion in Chinese goods from next week, with a threat of more tariffs on another $267 billion.
Beijing responded Tuesday by announcing new tariffs on $60 billion of US imports.
In a combative series of tweets, Trump, whose Republicans fear losing control of both houses of Congress in November, accused China of trying to broaden its retaliation into the electoral arena. It’s an especially sensitive issue given the political maelstrom over alleged Russian meddling in the real estate tycoon’s surprise 2016 presidential victory.
“China has openly stated that they are actively trying to impact and change our election by attacking our farmers, ranchers and industrial workers because of their loyalty to me,” Trump wrote.
“China has been taking advantage of the United States on Trade for many years. They also know that I am the one that knows how to stop it,” he added.
“There will be great and fast economic retaliation against China if our farmers, ranchers and/or industrial workers are targeted!”