Nov 8, 2022 - World

Possible interference from Beijing looms over elections

Illustration of a crimson red vote pin

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Democratic countries are sounding the alarm about Chinese government efforts to illicitly influence their elections.

The big picture: Governments, including Russia and the U.S., have long-documented histories of interfering with or attempting to influence the elections of other countries. Recent campaigns indicate that China is now getting into the game as well.

Driving the news: U.S. federal officials warned state and local officials in September that China likely is aiming to meddle in congressional races to "hinder candidates perceived to be particularly adversarial to Beijing."

  • Meta said in September that it shut down an inauthentic messaging campaign involving China-linked accounts that were promoting highly polarizing content targeted at U.S. voters in swing states.
  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused China on Monday of "aggressive" interference in Canada's elections.

Flashback: The U.S. has previously accused China of election interference.

  • President Trump said at the United Nations in 2018 that China was trying to interfere in the U.S. midterm elections.
  • In 2020, Trump's national security adviser Robert O'Brien said Beijing had "taken the most active role" of any foreign government in trying to influence U.S. elections and other domestic political processes.

Between the lines: "China’s latest efforts to sow doubt about U.S. election integrity are consistent with Xi’s stated goal of championing China’s autocratic model as a 'new choice for humanity,'" Craig Singleton, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, wrote in Foreign Policy magazine.

  • "Policymakers must make clear to Beijing that election meddling will not go unpunished. Upcoming meetings between democratic leaders and Xi at the G-20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, are as good a place to deliver that message as any."

The Chinese government denies that it engages in election interference and typically points to election meddling committed in the U.S., per AP.

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