Chinese moles in American institutions were earlier heard of but a recent report says a US Army general called his Chinese counterpart twice, expressing concerns that then-President Donald Trump could order an attack on China to shore up his chances of re-election, The Washington Post reported on 14 September.
US General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called General Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army on 30 October 2020 four days before the election and again on 8 January two days after the riot at the US Capitol, the newspaper reported.
In the calls, the US Army general sought to assure Li that America was stable and not going to attack and, if there were to be an attack, he would alert his counterpart ahead of time, the report said.
The report was based on Peril, a new book by journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, which they said relied on interviews with 200 sources, is due to be released next week.
Trump, in a statement, cast doubt in the story, calling it “fabricated”. He said if the story were true, Milley should be tried for treason. “For the record, I never even thought of attacking China,” Trump said.
Milley’s office declined to comment.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio called on United States President Joe Biden, a Democrat, to immediately fire Milley.
“I do not need to tell of you the dangers posed by senior military officers leaking classified information on US military operations, but I will underscore that such subversion undermines the President’s ability to negotiate and leverage one of this nation’s instruments of national power in his interactions with foreign nations,” Rubio said in a letter to Biden.
Asked about the Washington Post report, White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre declined to comment and referred questions to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Defense Department.
Trump, a Republican, had recommended Milley as the US Army general in 2018 but began criticising him, as well as other appointees and former staffers, soon after losing the presidential election to Biden in November 2020.
The Washington Post reported that Milley was motivated to contact Beijing the second time in part due to a 8 January call with United States House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who had asked the general what safeguards were in place to prevent an “unstable president” from launching a nuclear strike.
“He’s crazy. You know he’s crazy,” Pelosi told Milley, the newspaper reported, citing a transcript of the call.
According to the cited call transcript, the general replied, “I agree with you on everything.”