By James Zoebel Reviewer: Rainbow

AXIOS, an American news website based in Virginia, reported on Wednesday that the Trump administration just  declassified a piece of yet-to-be-confirmed intelligence that China paid Afghan non-state actors to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan.

According to two high-level officials in the Trump administration, who spoke to AXIOS over the phone, this intel was included in President Trump’s briefing on Dec. 17. Trump also received a verbal briefing by   National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien. Currently, officials from various government agencies are still working to verify this report. 

The earliest report on such scalp-hunting scheme was covered by a British newspaper, the Sunday Times in Sept. 2010. According to the report, Iranian companies in Kabul are using their offices covertly to pay Taliban for $1,000 bounty for each death of US soldiers. Similar reports on bounty programs also appeared on New York Times on June 26, 2020 and then again on New York Times and The Washington Post two days later. Specifically the WaPo article blamed the Russian spy agency, GRU, offering Taliban-linked militants bounties to attack coalition forces in Afghanistan. Back then, the intelligence community was still having disagreements over the authenticity of such plot. Therefore, President Trump was not briefed on this undecided matter. Yet, Speaker Nancy Pelosi spared no opportunity to lash out on Trump’s inaction. “This is totally outrageous. You would think that the minute the president heard of it, he would want to know more instead of denying that he knew anything,” Pelosi commented when she was interviewed by the ABC program “This Week.” Let’s not forget that New York Times and The Washington Post were paid earlier by the China Daily’s US subsidiary to print pro-CCP propaganda column “China Watch.”    

If this intel turns out to be true, what does it mean?

If confirmed, this bounty program could be seen part of Communist Chinese regime’s unrestricted warfare to undermine the influence of American and its NATO partners in the Afghanistan. Being a landlocked country neighboring China, Pakistan, Iran and Central Asian countries, Afghanistan has remarkable geostrategic and geopolitical importance. It is worth noticing that Beijing has been taking an active stance in participating in Afghan-related activities, the Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs speaking with his counterparts from Afghanistan and other Central Asian nations over trade and connectivity on Dec. 9th, 2020, and Wang Yi, Foreign Affairs Minister giving a speech at Intra-Afghan Negotiations in Sept., 2020, to name just a few.     

The immediate thought that comes to me is the phrase, “Kill with a Borrowed Sword”, a tactic from The Thirty-Six Stratagems, a Chinese essay used to illustrate a series of stratagems used in politics, war, and civil interaction. In a nutshell, this strategy means that when you do not have the means to attack your enemy directly, then attack using the strength of another. You could trick an ally into attacking him, bribe an official to turn traitor, or use the enemy’s own strength against him.

One example offered by the China Daily involved a record during the Spring and Autumn Period (771 to 476 BCE) that the ruler of the state of Qi, Duke Jing of Qi stirred up a fight among three fearless warriors, Gongsun Jie, Tian Kaijiang and Gu Yezi. 

“They were very arrogant because of the accomplishments on the battlefield and even showed disrespect towards the ruler of Qi, Duke Jing of Qi. So when Duke Jing planned to remove them to avoid any future troubles, the prime minister, Yan Ying suggested killing the three warriors with two peaches. Two peaches were to be awarded to the two of them who deserved it the most. Gongsun Jie and Tian Kaijiang thought they were deserved and took one peach each, while Gu Yezi angrily pulled his sword and challenged the other two to a duel. At last, Gongsun Jie and Tian Kaijing felt ashamed of arguing fiercely just for two peaches and then committed suicide with their swords. Having watched this, Gu Yezi killed himself the same way. Thus Yan Ying was able to remove three potential threats to the country of Qi without lifting a finger.”

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