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China seeks to “influence and arguably interfere” upcoming US elections: Blinken

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (File Photo)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, while closing his three-day trip to China, said that the US has seen evidence of Chinese attempts to “influence and arguably interfere” with the upcoming US elections, despite Chinese President Xi Jinping’s earlier commitment to not do so, reported CNN.

Blinken made the comments in an interview with CNN on Friday while ending his visit to China, where the top American diplomat spent hours meeting with top Chinese officials, including Xi, as the two countries navigated a raft of contentious issues, from US tech controls to Beijing’s support for Moscow.

Blinken said he reiterated President Joe Biden’s message, which he gave to Xi Jinping during their summit in San Francisco last November, to not interfere in the 2024 US presidential elections.

Following which, Xi pledged that China would not do so, according to CNN.

“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 said when asked whether China was violating Xi’s commitment to Biden so far.

“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,” he added.

Blinken further noted that there were concerns about China and other countries playing on existing social divisions in the US in influence campaigns, as reported by CNN.

Beijing has repeatedly said that it does not interfere in US elections, based on its principle of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs.

However, China or other nations that are believed to be affiliated with Beijing have been accused of political interference in other countries, such as Canada, according to CNN.

Blinken’s trip, marking his second visit to the country in less than a year, is the latest in a string of high-level engagements that culminated in the Biden-Xi summit late last year and have seen the two countries start to expand what had been severely diminished bilateral communications.

“We are (now) focused on areas where we’re working to cooperate, but also we’re being very forthright about our differences and that’s important if we’re going to avoid the competition we’re in turning into conflict,” Blinken said.