Blinken: China seeks to ‘influence and arguably interfere’ with US elections

The Biden administration has seen evidence of attempts by China to influence the upcoming U.S. elections, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in an interview with CNN published Friday.

Blinken, who is wrapping up a three-day visit to China, said he raised in his meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping and other officials that any interference in the U.S. election is “totally unacceptable.”

Such action would mark a violation of commitments Xi made to President Biden when the two leaders met in November in Woodside, Calif., a watershed meeting aimed at stabilizing deep mistrust and competition between the U.S. and China.

“We have seen, generally speaking, evidence of attempts to influence and arguably interfere, and we want to make sure that that’s cut off as quickly as possible,” Blinken told CNN when asked if Xi had violated the Woodside commitments.

Blinken did not address any specific evidence of Chinese election interference, and he did not say that the Chinese government had violated the commitment Xi had made to Biden.

But The New York Times reported in early April that covert Chinese accounts are masquerading as supporters of former President Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. These accounts are also promoting conspiracy theories, stoking domestic divisions and attacking Biden ahead of the election in November.

“Any interference by China in our election is something that we’re looking very carefully at and is totally unacceptable to us, so I wanted to make sure that they heard that message again,” Blinken said he told Xi and other Chinese officials.

In addition to Xi, Blinken met with senior Chinese officials, including China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Minister of Public Security Wang Xiaohong, and Shanghai Party Secretary Chen Jining.

Blinken’s trip was aimed at building on and maintaining open lines of communication with Chinese officials amid tense relations between Washington and Beijing. Blinken said he brought with him the message of the importance of keeping open lines on military-to-military channels to avoid conflict, to make progress on counternarcotics cooperation, and to increase people-to-people ties.

The trip ended with no new announcements on cooperation. Blinken said his trip occurred “at a time of profound tension between our countries” and “with the aim of stabilizing the relationship, reopening and strengthening our high-level channels of communication.”

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