No interest in meddling in US polls, says China

Remarks follow Trump's assertion that Beijing would prefer a victory for his Democratic opponent Joe Biden

US President Donald Trump says he is looking at different options in terms of consequences for Beijing over the coronavirus pandemic. PHOTO: REUTERS
US President Donald Trump says he is looking at different options in terms of consequences for Beijing over the coronavirus pandemic. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING • China has no interest in interfering in the US presidential election, it said yesterday, after United States President Donald Trump said he believed Beijing would try to make him lose his re-election bid in November.

"The US presidential election is an internal affair, we have no interest in interfering in it," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters during a daily briefing. "We hope the people of the US will not drag China into its election politics."

In an interview with Reuters on Wednesday, Mr Trump said "China will do anything they can to have me lose this race", adding that he believed Beijing wants his Democratic opponent Joe Biden to win the election to ease the pressure the US President has placed on China over trade and other issues.

Mr Trump also said he was looking at different options in terms of consequences for Beijing over the coronavirus pandemic.

He and other top officials have blamed China for Covid-19, which has infected more than one million Americans and has thrown the US economy into a deep recession.

"There are many things I can do," Mr Trump told Reuters. "We're looking for what happened."

He also said the US trade deal with China had been "upset very badly" by the economic fallout from the Covid-19 crisis.

The slowdown has made it more difficult for China to meet purchasing pledges included in a phase one trade pact reached between the two sides in January.

At yesterday's briefing, Mr Geng reiterated that China was a victim of the pandemic and not its accomplice, adding that attempts by "certain politicians" to shift blame away from their poor handling of the outbreak to Beijing would only "expose the problems of the US itself".

"The US should know this: The enemy is the virus, not China," Mr Geng said.

Separately, Mr Trump also criticised the World Health Organisation again during a White House meeting with Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards.

 
 

He had sought to cut off US funding for the United Nations agency, accusing it of taking Chinese claims about the virus at "face value".

"They misled us," he said. "They're literally a pipe organ for China."

Mr Trump added that nothing positive is happening in China and that the country should not have allowed international air travel during its coronavirus outbreak.

The comments came after China Central Television's top evening news programme on Wednesday questioned the transparency and accuracy of US data on Covid-19 infections.

The state television programme said in recent days that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is "turning himself into the common enemy of mankind" and that he "has exceeded the bottom line of being human".

Mr Pompeo has said China knows the virus outbreak originated in the country, and is using "classic communist disinformation" to shift the focus from that.

 
 

"I've been heartened to see Australia, other countries joining us, demanding an investigation, because while we know this started in Wuhan, China, we don't yet know from where it started," Mr Pompeo told Fox News on Wednesday.

"And in spite of our best efforts to get experts on the ground, they continue to try and hide and obfuscate," he said, adding: "The Chinese Communist Party now has a responsibility to tell the world how this pandemic got out of China and all across the world, causing such global economic devastation."

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 01, 2020, with the headline 'No interest in meddling in US polls, says China'. Subscribe