Chinese state-run media unleashed an unusually strong rebuttal to tweets by U.S. President Donald Trump, accusing Beijing of hacking former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s email server, blasting the remarks as seemingly “from some alternative universe.”
The official China Daily blasted Trump directly in an editorial published late Thursday, denying the allegation and saying that the U.S. leader was attempting to cast China as a “scapegoat” ahead of November elections in the United States.
“To the thinking person, there are few things more disconcerting than a tweet by the U.S. president as they initially seem to accord to reality but then quickly turn into messages from some alternative universe,” the editorial said.
Trump wrote on Twitter on Wednesday that China hacked the emails of Clinton, his Democratic rival in the 2016 presidential election, but did not offer any evidence or further information.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has denied Trump’s claim and the editorial accused him of “smearing China’s image as he desperately needs a scapegoat in the run-up to the midterm elections, so he can divert public attention from the troubles the White House has become mired in.”
The editorial added that “China, against whom he is launching a trade war, is an easy candidate for that role, since it has long been demonized by U.S. politicians.”
Trump is reportedly weighing imposing tariffs on a further $200 billion in Chinese imports as early as next week — the biggest tranche so far in what would mark a major escalation in the trade war between the world’s two largest economies.
In a separate article citing Chinese observers, China’s hawkish Global Times tabloid said Trump’s Clinton hacking accusations were “unserious and unwarranted” and were “aimed at pressuring Beijing during a trade war and containing the country’s rise.”
“Fundamentally, the U.S. wants to contain China in all aspects it could possibly think of,” the Global Times quoted Da Wei, director of the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations’ Institute of American Studies in Beijing, as saying.
Recent weeks have seen a shift in China’s increasingly aggressive attacks on Trump. In the past, outlets had toned down their coverage and refrained from directly targeting the mercurial U.S. president.
Last week, the country’s top broadcaster, China Global Television Network, took to YouTube to roast Trump in a sarcastic video titled “Thanks Mr. Trump, you are GREAT!” mocking the American leader over his trade policy toward Beijing.
The video was later wiped from the official CGTN YouTube account.