China is about to face the wrath of the US military, but not in the tropical South China Sea Islands. US-China military tensions are going to spike in Afghanistan- the war-ravaged nation that China wants to exploit. As per the latest media reports, American Intelligence officials briefed President Donald Trump on alleged findings of China offering money to non-State actors for attacking US troops.
It is unclear if President-elect Biden has also been briefed about the Chinese bounties on American troops. But one thing is clear- the latest reports can derail White House’s Afghanistan withdrawal plans. And this isn’t going to be good news for China as the US intelligence allegations are momentous. The US is not only acknowledging that the China threat exists in Afghanistan, but it is also alleging that China is working against US interests in the war-torn country.
As per Axios, the US President was informed about the Chinese bounty discovery on December 17. Last year, there were also reports about Russian bounties on American troops. But the Trump administration did not halt its withdrawal plans over reports of Russian bounties.
The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo even said that it was “nothing new” that Russia was acting against American interests in Afghanistan. Trump himself dubbed such reports “a hoax by the newspapers and the Democrats.” The Democrats were thus not able to make a big deal out of the Russian bounty reports.
However, the reports of Chinese bounties on American troops is a much bigger excuse for the incoming Biden administration. It is also a more legitimate cause to coerce Trump against withdrawing American soldiers from the war-torn nation. The Afghanistan withdrawal is at the top of Trump’s agenda. The US President wants to withdraw thousands of troops from Afghanistan, and leave only 2,500 US soldiers stationed in the South Asian nation before leaving office.
But the reports of China targeting US interests is too hard to ignore even for Trump. And then the 74 years-old Republican is the biggest China hawk, at least in the US, if not across the world. From a purely political perspective, Trump cannot simply gloss over intelligence briefings about the China threat in Afghanistan.
And even if Trump decides to go ahead with his withdrawal plans anyway, Biden will have a legitimate excuse in Chinese bounty reports to redeploy American soldiers on Afghan soil. He will pin down China, to keep the US soldiers stationed in China or even redeploy them, if need be.
In fact, security experts continue to argue that China wants the US out of Afghanistan. As per DW, Jawid Kohistani, an Afghan security analyst in Kabul, said that China wants the US forces and the NATO out of Afghanistan to expand its economic influence in the war-ravaged country. Remember, Afghanistan is sitting on mineral wealth worth $3 trillion. If the US leaves, Beijing will want to exploit Afganistan’s tremendous wealth.
Also, China has shamelessly established contact with non-State actors including the Afghan Taliban, Haqqani Network and the Al Qaeda, in Afghanistan. It is even using these contacts to undermine the civilian government in Kabul, apart from securing an understanding with Taliban leaders to not aggravate the Uighur situation within China’s far-Western Xinjiang province.
Now, it is becoming clear that China wants the US out of Afghanistan. More importantly, we know why Beijing wants to push the American troops out of the war-torn nation. The paper dragon wants to create ungoverned spaces and power gaps in Kabul, to loot all its wealth. The US however might not be ready to let China go ahead with its plans and would in all probability, stay and punish China for its misadventures.