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Joint Chiefs Chairman Reportedly Promised to Warn China in Case of US Preemptive Attack

© AP Photo / Caroline BrehmanChairman of the Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley testifies before a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing to examine proposed budget estimates and justification for fiscal year 2022 for the Department of Defense in Washington on Thursday, June 17, 2021.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley testifies before a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing to examine proposed budget estimates and justification for fiscal year 2022 for the Department of Defense in Washington on Thursday, June 17, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 14.09.2021
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Relations between China and the United States plummeted during Donald Trump’s presidency after Washington kicked off a trade and tariff war worth hundreds of billions of dollars and ramped up US military deployments in Asia. The slide has continued under Joe Biden amid the Democrat’s obsession with Taiwan.
Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley reportedly promised to warn his Chinese counterpart, Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army’s headquarters, that he would personally warn him if Donald Trump ordered a preemptive attack on China.
Milley’s supposed assurances were mentioned in a new book due to be released next week by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, which claims to provide an inside look at the transition period between the Trump and Biden presidencies. Excerpts of the book, entitled ‘Peril’, were released by the Post on Tuesday.
According to Woodward and Costa, Milley secretly phoned General Li twice, on 30 October 2020, and again on 8 January 2021, to calm the top Chinese military official.
The first phone call reportedly took place after Milley reviewed intelligence suggesting that Beijing feared Washington may be preparing to attack amid tensions in the South China Sea and Trump’s bellicose rhetoric.

“General Li, I want to assure you that the American government is stable and everything is going to be okay,” Milley reportedly said. “We are not going to attack or conduct any kinetic operations against you,” the general added, using military jargon for active warfare.

“You and I have known each other for now five years. If we’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise,” the Joint Chiefs chairman supposedly promised.
The second call is said to have taken place in January, according to Woodward and Costa’s account, and was related to Chinese concerns about potential instability in the US following the events of 6 January at the Capitol.
“We are 100 percent steady. Everything’s fine. But democracy can be sloppy sometimes,” Milley reportedly said.
In addition to calling Li, Milley was also said to have phoned the US Indo-Pacific Command to ask them to postpone upcoming military drills to assuage the Chinese.
The general reportedly also spoke to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on 8 January as well, discussing the president’s mental state and “agreeing” with her assessment that Trump was “unstable” and “crazy” but assuring her that there were “a lot of checks in the system” to prevent him from unilaterally starting a war or ordering a nuclear strike.
Woodward and Costa's book further claims that Milley summoned senior officers to speak with him and asked them to make sure he was involved if the president suddenly gave any order to launch nuclear weapons.
‘Woke General' vs. Trump
Trump appointed Milley in 2018, but the two men had a very public falling out in the aftermath of the 2020 election and the violence at the Capitol in January. Trump has accused Milley and other “woke generals" under Biden of focusing on ‘critical race theory’ instead of tackling America’s real “enemies.” Milley, meanwhile, is reported to have expressed fears that Trump might try to hang on to power after his loss to Biden in November.
The former president has yet to comment on Woodward’s new book, but has generally dismissed claims made about him in ‘insider accounts’ of his presidency. He called one of Woodward’s earlier books about him, 2018's 'Fear', a work of “fiction,” “a Joke,” and “another assault against [him]…using now disproven unnamed and anonymous sources.”
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