The Trump administration is declassifying intelligence, recently briefed to President Trump, that indicates China offered to pay non-state actors in Afghanistan to attack American soldiers, two senior administration officials said.
If this intelligence were to be confirmed, it would represent a dramatic strategic shift for China, and sharply escalate tensions between China and the U.S. If the intelligence does not prove accurate, it raises questions about the motivations of the sources behind it as well as the decision to declassify it.
- China has long played a quiet diplomatic role in Afghanistan, inviting Afghan Taliban officials to Beijing to discuss plans for a peace deal and encouraging an Afghan-led solution, though Chinese-made weapons and financing have at times also flowed into the conflict there.
- It seems “incongruous” that China would take such a provocative action in Afghanistan, Andrew Small, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund who specializes in China-Afghanistan affairs said.
- Pursuing peace in Afghanistan is “one of the extremely rare areas where the US and China still have a willingness to work together on an area of importance,” Small said. “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.”