WASHINGTON (AFP) - President Donald Trump on Tuesday (Sept 18) accused China of seeking to influence upcoming US elections by taking aim at his political support base in the countries’ escalating trade war.
“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,” Mr Trump tweeted.
Mr Trump’s comments came a day after he targeted another US$200 billion (S$274 billion) in Chinese imports with tariffs starting next week, drawing an immediate vow of retaliation from Beijing.
The latest round of products targeted mean that Mr Trump has taken aim at half of all the goods the US imports from China, instantly raising the prices for businesses and consumers that rely on them.
He also threatened to impose taxes on virtually all of the remaining goods imported from China, amounting to US$267 billion a year if China retaliates rather than changing its trade policies.
Beijing has so far struck back dollar-for-dollar to each escalation of the trade dispute but it is running out of US goods to hit, and on Tuesday announced new duties on US$60 billion in products.
The US imported over US$500 billion in goods from China last year but exported just US$130 billion.
As Mr Trump has pursued his confrontation trade policy, China, Canada, Mexico and the European Union have all fought back, and have targeted goods seen as hitting areas loyal to Mr Trump, including soybeans, bourbon, and blue jeans.
Mr Trump was defiant and said his supporters will not be swayed.
“What China does not understand is that these people are great patriots and fully understand that...China has been taking advantage of the United States on Trade for many years,” he tweeted.
“They also know that I am the one that knows how to stop it. There will be great and fast economic retaliation against China if our farmers, ranchers and/or industrial workers are targeted!”