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Blinken tells CNN the US has seen evidence of China attempting to influence upcoming US elections


US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States had seen evidence of Chinese attempts to “influence and arguably interfere” with the upcoming US elections, despite leader Xi Jinping’s earlier pledge not to not do it.

Blinken made the comments to CNN’s Kylie Atwood on Friday in an interview at the end of a three-day trip to China, where America’s top diplomat spent hours meeting with senior Chinese officials, including Xi, as two countries were navigating a series of controversial issues. from American technological controls to Beijing’s support for Moscow.

Blinken said he repeated a message that President Joe Biden gave to Xi during their summit in San Francisco last November, namely not to interfere in the 2024 US presidential elections. Afterwards, Xi pledged that China does not do so, according to CNN reports.

“We have seen, generally speaking, evidence of attempts to influence and arguably interference, and we want to make sure that that is disrupted as quickly as possible,” Blinken said when asked if China had so far violated Xi’s commitment to Biden.

“Any interference by China in our elections is something that we look at very carefully and is completely unacceptable to us. So I wanted to make sure that they heard that message again,” Blinken said, adding that there had concerns about China and other countries. countries playing on existing social divisions in the United States in influence campaigns.

Beijing has repeatedly said it does not interfere in US elections, based on its principle of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs. China or actors believed to be affiliated with Beijing have been accused of political interference in other countries, such as Canada.

Blinken’s trip – his second to the country in less than a year – is the latest in a series of high-level engagements that culminated with the Biden-Xi summit late last year and have saw the two countries begin to expand what had been seriously diminishing bilateral communications.

“We are (now) focused on the areas where we are working to cooperate, but we are also very frank about our differences and that is important if we want to avoid the competition we find ourselves in turning into conflict,” Blinken said. told CNN.

Blinken also said he used his meeting to voice the Biden administration’s concerns about China’s support for Russia’s defense industrial base – and to emphasize that additional steps would be taken by the United States in plus existing sanctions against more than 100 Chinese entities and individuals if such support continues.

The United States believes that Chinese support allows Russia to increase its production of tanks, munitions and armored vehicles – and continue its attack on Ukraine.

“What we’ve said to China is: We’re going to take the steps we’ve already taken, and if this doesn’t stop, we’re going to have to take more steps, and you can also anticipate that other countries will do it. (too),” Blinken said, adding that he had raised the issue with Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Xi. “We expect them to take action, and … if they don’t, we will.”

He also said his Chinese counterparts had failed to recognize the role of these products in the war in Ukraine. Instead, they called it trade with Russia and said Moscow’s success did not depend on China, Blinken added.

Beijing has previously criticized the United States for making “baseless accusations” regarding “normal trade and economic exchanges” between China and Russia.

China has long asserted that it maintains its neutrality in the war in Ukraine and continues to present itself as a potential peace broker in the conflict, even as it has strengthened its economic, strategic and diplomatic ties with Russia from the start of the war.

Blinken also defended the American right to protest, when asked about pro-Palestinian demonstrations that have erupted on college campuses across the United States in recent days, amid growing concern over the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Responding to a question referring to reports of anti-Semitic rhetoric at some of these rallies, Blinken said there have been instances where there have been clear expressions of anti-Semitism, but that “the demonstrations in themselves are not anti-Semitic.”

“What we also see is people, young people, people from different backgrounds, who feel very passionate, who have had very strong emotions about (the conflict),” he said.

He also emphasized the importance of such expression in democracies, without explicitly mentioning the absence of such freedoms in China.

“In our country, in our society and in our democracy, expressing that is, of course, something that is both appropriate and protected,” he said. “But we’ve certainly seen cases where this has clearly gone from being a completely legitimate expression of opinions and beliefs to, in some cases, yes, clear expressions of anti-Semitism.”

Blinken said the administration was listening to the American people and “taking their views into account.” But he did not explain how protesters’ concerns would impact Biden administration policy.

Asked if the administration would consider stopping sending weapons to Israel, as that is what some protesters are calling for, he said no.

“No, we are focused on what is in the interest of the United States. How can we best reflect our interests and our values ​​in our foreign policy at all levels, whether with Israel or with anyone else,” Blinken said.

02:13 – Source: CNN

Reporter asks Blinken if pro-Palestinian protests in US will affect politics

Asked about resolving the conflict in Gaza, Blinken said it was up to Hamas to decide whether to allow a ceasefire, after the militant group refused to accept several possible deals.

He also said tensions across the region appeared to be easing following apparent airstrikes between Iran and Israel earlier this month, which increased fears that the war in Gaza could turn into a a wider conflagration.

“I think now I hope we don’t see that kind of escalation,” Blinken said, explaining that Hamas could have seen that escalation when it rejected Israel’s hostage offer.

Blinken also said it might be possible to put in place a framework for the normalization of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia as well as a proposed two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians before the establishment of a ceasefire in Gaza, marking a reversal in the order of events. that U.S. officials previously expected to follow.

“Certainly, it’s possible,” Blinken said. “Ceasefire or not, we will continue to publicize these possibilities. But to achieve this, it will be necessary to put an end to the conflict in Gaza. And as I said, we will also have to find a solution to the Palestinian question, or at least an agreement on how to resolve it.”

Previously, U.S. officials said ongoing negotiations to secure a ceasefire must reach an agreement before further regional efforts can emerge.

Referring to countries that came to Israel’s defense after Iran launched its April 13 air attack, Blinken said there could be “a path into the future where Israel is truly integrated into the region.” , where other countries would contribute to ensuring its defense.”

“But it also requires that (the conflict in) Gaza ends and there is a clear path to a Palestinian state. In this kind of future, Israel will get what it has sought since the beginning of its existence, namely normal relations with the countries of the region,” he said.

Blinken cited continued U.S. efforts to work toward normalizing relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia as part of a possible historic deal to end the war between Israel and Hamas.

“We have worked intensively to flesh it out, working with our partners, also working with our European partners on this subject. And I think the more concrete it becomes, and the more it moves from the hypothetical and the theoretical to something actually possible, real, then everyone involved will actually have to make decisions and make choices. And so we do this work. And we’re trying to make it as real as possible,” Blinken said.

CNN’s Jennifer Hansler contributed reporting.

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With a penchant for words, jack began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class.After interning at the New York Times, jack landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim.Though writing is his passion, jack also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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