According to the report, Trump was briefed on the ‘as-yet uncorroborated’ Chinese bounty intelligence on December 17, and discussed it with national security adviser Robert O’Brien the same day according to officials.
“The U.S. has evidence that the PRC [People’s Republic of China] attempted to finance attacks on American servicemen by Afghan non-state actors by offering financial incentives or ‘bounties’” and said the National Security Council “is coordinating a whole-of-government investigation,” one official told Axios, who would not say if he was referring to the Taliban or other ‘non-state actors.’
The same person said that the Trump administration received earlier intelligence regarding “PRC weapons illicitly flowing into Afghanistan.”
The British and U.S. governments have previously complained about Chinese-made weapons being used by the Taliban.
- The interest in Afghanistan stems in part from Beijing’s desire to prevent Chinese Muslim separatist groups from using the country as a base.
- Afghan security officials recently discovered an alleged Chinese spy ring operating in the country apparently seeking to target Uighurs there, according to a Dec. 25 report from the Hindustan Times. -Axios
It’s unknown if members of Congress or President-elect Joe Biden have been briefed, however Biden currently has access to the President’s Daily Brief (PDB). When contacted for comment, the Chinese embassy in D.C. didn’t respond to the news outlet, while President Trump is not believed to have discussed it with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Also unclear is when the alleged bounties were offered – though the source says it happened sometime after late February after the United States struck a deal with the Taliban.
One senior official involved in the latest China discussions told Axios “Like all first reports, we react with caution to initial reports,” adding “any intel reports relating to the safety of our forces we take very seriously.”
Following up on the briefing, officials conducted a Policy Coordinating Committee (PCC) meeting to discuss the intelligence. The meeting had two objectives; gain more insight from the intelligence community to verify the initial reports, and to consult with the intelligence and defense communities involved in the force protection posture for the remaining US forces in Afghanistan.