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 Trump’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 Biden 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.

Tags Afghanistan Axios Donald Trump Donald Trump Joe Biden Joe Biden Presidents of the United States US-China relations

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