US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, during the final day of his three-day visit to China, said that the US observed signs of Chinese attempts to “influence and arguably interfere” in the forthcoming US presidential elections, despite earlier assurances from Chinese President Xi Jinping to refrain from such actions, CNN reported.

In an interview with CNN on Friday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken shared his observations about Chinese attempts to influence the upcoming US elections. These comments came after he visited China, where he spent hours discussing various contentious topics with high-level Chinese officials, including President Xi Jinping. Key issues addressed during his visit included US technology controls and Beijing’s support for Moscow.

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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 this, Xi pledged that China would not do so. “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.

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

Beijing has consistently stated that it does not interfere in US elections, citing its principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other nations. However, China, or entities believed to be connected with Beijing, has faced allegations of political interference in other countries, like Canada.

Despite its official stance, these allegations suggest that China’s actions might not always align with its publicly stated principles.

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Blinken’s visit to China, his second in under a year, is part of a series of high-level engagements aimed at mending relations and building on the progress achieved during the Biden-Xi summit late last year. These recent interactions indicate a gradual expansion of previously strained bilateral communications between the two countries.

“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. 

(With inputs from ANI)

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Published: 27 Apr 2024, 08:32 AM IST