One of China's official mouthpiece newspapers on Monday questioned whether the United States would defend Taiwan in a conflict after the collapse in Afghanistan, illustrating how the messy American exit from Kabul has far-reaching global consequences.
The series of tweets from the state-affiliated Global Times immediately captured the interest of U.S. intelligence experts, who questioned whether China and other global adversaries might agitate while the Biden administration struggles to oversee a bungled troop withdrawal after the 20-year war in Afghanistan.
"If war breaks out across the Taiwan Straits, will US keep its promises?," the Global Times tweeted in one such post flagged by U.S. intelligence officials to Just the News. "Some media asked after US hastened pullout from #Afghanistan. #US has never promised to send troops if conflicts occur across the Straits, an expert in Taiwan said."
In another provocative tweet, the newspaper's top editor questioned whether any American ally could rely on U.S. promises going forward.
"Afghans have no confidence in the US and US-supported regimes. I believe their distrust reflects the fact that the entire world has lost confidence in the US: Editor-in-Chief Hu Xijin #HuSays" the tweet declared.
In a third tweet, the Chinese newspaper mocked a U.S. retreat from Kabul under President Joe Biden.
“The ‘fall of Kabul’ rings the funeral bell of US hegemony,” the paper crowed. "If the US decides to launch military actions elsewhere with the excuse of 'democracy, human rights or rules-based order,”' very few countries would keep following it: experts and media."
Current and former intelligence officials uniformly told Just the News they were concerned by the tweets, but offered varying assessments about what they might signal. Some said they were simply part of a propaganda effort while others warned China has an interest in moving into Afghanistan to seize minerals and might be tempted to provoke some form of tension in places like Taiwan.
"Americans need to understand our bumbling exit from Kabul has far greater impact than inside Afghanistan," one recently retired CIA officer told Just the News. "Our enemies around the world see it as a moment of weakness and failure that they hoped to exploit. The question is how far will they go?"