Trump administration declassifies unconfirmed intelligence on China bounties on US forces in Afghanistan: report

The Trump administration is declassifying unconfirmed intelligence that indicates China paid nonstate actors in Afghanistan to attack U.S. soldiers, Axios reported Wednesday.

Two senior administration officials told Axios that the intelligence was included with President TrumpDonald TrumpCIA chief threatened to resign over push to install Trump loyalist as deputy: report Azar in departure letter says Capitol riot threatens to 'tarnish' administration's accomplishments Justice Dept. argues Trump should get immunity from rape accuser's lawsuit MORE’s briefing on Dec. 17. Administration officials from multiple agencies are attempting to corroborate the information. If the information is indeed true, it could drastically change China’s relationship with the U.S. and heighten tensions between the two superpowers.

The officials who spoke to Axios did not say where the information came from or what period of time it covered.


Axios noted that China has mostly remained out of Afghanistan while speaking to Taliban officials about peace deals. However, Chinese-made weapons and funding have intermittently made their way to Afghanistan, the news outlet reported.

Andrew Small, an expert on China-Afghanistan affairs, told Axios that such actions were not in line with China’s typical policies, noting that peace in Afghanistan is one area where the U.S. and China typically agree.

"They know the drawdown is taking place. We’re not in the context where anything else needs to happen to US troops in Afghanistan. There is no reason to create additional pressure on US forces,” said Small.

This report comes months after uncorroborated intelligence came out that Russia had offered bounties on U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Trump was condemned by lawmakers for his apparent reluctance to acknowledge or confront Russia on the reports.

According to Axios, it is unclear whether President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenAzar in departure letter says Capitol riot threatens to 'tarnish' administration's accomplishments House Democrats introduce measures to oppose Trump's bomb sale to Saudis On The Money: Retail sales drop in latest sign of weakening economy | Fast-food workers strike for minimum wage | US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits MORE or any members of Congress have similarly been briefed on this information, though Biden has access to the President's Daily Brief.

If the intelligence ultimately cannot be corroborated, the decision to declassify it would fall into question, Axios noted.