Report: US top general secretly called China over fears Trump could spark war

US General Mark Milley called General Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army on October 30, 2020 ― four days before the election ― and again on January 8, two days after Trump supporters led a deadly riot at the US Capitol. — Reuters pic
US General Mark Milley called General Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army on October 30, 2020 ― four days before the election ― and again on January 8, two days after Trump supporters led a deadly riot at the US Capitol. — Reuters pic

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WASHINGTON, September 14 ― The top US general secretly called his Chinese counterpart twice over concerns then-President Donald Trump could spark a war with China as his potential election loss loomed and in its aftermath, the Washington Post reported yesterday.

US General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called General Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army on October 30, 2020 ― four days before the election ― and again on January 8, two days after Trump supporters led a deadly riot at the US Capitol, the newspaper reported.

In the calls, Milley sought to assure Li the United States 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 and is due to be released next week.

Trump said in an interview with Newsmax yesterday that Milley's reported promise to give Li advance warning of any attack was “treasonous” and that there was no need for such a call.

“I did not ever think of attacking China,” Trump said.

Milley's office declined to comment.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio called on 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 Defence Department.

Trump, a Republican, named Milley to the top military post in 2018 but began criticising him, as well as other appointees and former staffers, 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 January 8 call with US 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.” ― Reuters

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