President Donald Trump will be declassifying U.S. intelligence findings that China paid non-state actors in Afghanistan to attack American soldiers, Axios reported.
The findings were briefed to Trump on Dec. 17, two senior administration officials told Axios.
Trump has sought to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and increase maximum pressure campaigns on China before he would leave office next month.
While China has maintained a mostly quiet diplomatic role in Afghanistan affairs, Axios has reported China has invited Taliban officials to Beijing for peace talks, but “Chinese-made weapons and financing have at times also flowed into the conflict there,” according to the report.
Foreign affairs expert Andrew Small called it “incongruous” for China to engage in a bounty scheme, an allegation previously lobbed at Russia. Afghanistan is “one of the extremely rare areas where the U.S. and China still have a willingness to work together on an area of importance,” Small told Axios.
“They know the drawdown is taking place,” he added to Axios. “We’re not in the context where anything else needs to happen to U.S. troops in Afghanistan. There is no reason to create additional pressure on U.S. forces.”
Trump has not brought up the Chinese bounties in Afghanistan with China President Xi Jinping, per the report.
Trump was also rebuked in the media and by Democrats for not pressing Russia’s Vladimir Putin on alleged bounties schemes in written intelligence reports. Trump discredited that intelligence as unverified.
Democrat Joe Biden has access to the daily intelligence briefing, so he might potentially know of the reports of Chinese bounties on American troops, too, Axios noted.