China says it’s not interested in meddling in US election after Donald Trump said Beijing wants him to lose
China has no interest in interfering in the US election, the foreign ministry said on Thursday after President Donald Trump’s comment that Beijing “will do anything they can” to make him lose his re-election bid in November.
Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the election was an internal affair and that Beijing hoped Americans would not try to drag China into it.
“We have said many times that the US election is an internal matter for the United States, and China is not interested in intervening,” he said during a regular press briefing in Beijing.
“At the same time, we also hope that American politicians will not make trouble about China.”
Trump told Reuters on Wednesday that he believed Beijing wanted his Democratic opponent Joe Biden to win the race to ease the pressure the US president had put on China over trade and other issues.
“China will do anything they can to have me lose this race,” Trump said in the interview.
But observers in mainland China said a Democrat in the White House would be unlikely to change anything in the tense Beijing-Washington relationship.
Shi Yinhong, a US specialist with Renmin University in Beijing, said he did not expect an immediate improvement in ties even if Biden became president.
“There won’t be any China-friendly president of the United States and it’s hard to say whether Trump or Biden would be worse,” said Shi, who is an adviser to the State Council, China’s cabinet.
“A Democratic president will be more effective in uniting US allies in Europe to decouple with China in the technology area, and that will be very damaging for China,” he said.
“And a Democratic leader might not care about nice comments or a personal phone call as much as Trump,” he added.
Biden, who was Barack Obama’s vice-president, has promised to restore the US leadership on the global stage and renew ties with American allies disrupted by the Trump administration.
He was also among the harshest critics of Chinese President Xi Jinping during the Democratic primary debates, in February calling Xi a “thug” and slamming him for Beijing’s crackdown on the Uygur minority in Xinjiang and its stance on Hong Kong.
But Shi said US-China relations were likely to be more predictable under Biden.
“The Democratic Party’s foreign policy team has more experience dealing with China,” he said. “Ties might not be as volatile and there is more possibility of cooperation on issues like global warming.”
Wang Jisi, a prominent international relations expert with Peking University, said the Trump administration had a clear focus on trade.
“Trump has mostly pressed China in the area of trade,” he said during an online lecture in March. “He is not too interested in issues like the South China Sea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, human rights and Xinjiang.”
Wang said if Biden was elected, he would likely push harder on all of those issues and seek to unite other countries against “the China threat”.
Trump has repeatedly accused China of meddling in the US presidential election over the past year, without providing specific evidence beyond a 2018 advertisement placed in Iowa by a Chinese state-run newspaper lobbying against his trade policies.
Lu Xiang, an expert on US-China relations at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, called it a campaign tactic.
“Trump accuses China to serve his presidential campaign, but it’s highly questionable how effective this tactic will be,” he said.
During the Reuters interview, Trump also said he was looking at options in terms of consequences for Beijing over the coronavirus.
The US and China have engaged in a blame game over the pandemic, with some voices in Washington saying Beijing should be held responsible for the outbreak.
Lu said the remarks need not be taken “seriously or literally” but China should prepare for all scenarios.
China’s deputy foreign minister Le Yucheng on Tuesday told NBC News that the two countries should look beyond the November election.
“The China-US relationship, being such an important relationship between two major countries, should not be defined or handled in a way that serves only the purpose of one election,” Le said.
“Nor should the election be used as an excuse to shift groundless blame to China, undermine China-US cooperation, or pit the two peoples against each other.”
Additional reporting by Wendy Wu