President Donald Trump’s trip to China may have involved a rather intense showdown between American and Chinese security forces, according to Axios.
Wherever the president goes, so does the nuclear football. China apparently did not get the memo, as Chinese security officials attempted to block the military aide carrying the briefcase from entering the Great Hall of the People with the president when he visited last November, Axios reports, citing five sources familiar with the incident.
When Chief of Staff John Kelly rushed back to instruct the American officials to continuing moving forward, a Chinese security officer laid a hand on Kelly, leading a U.S. secret service agent to reportedly tackle the Chinese man to the ground.
This rather unpleasant exchange was resolved quickly, and the Chinese side, which never touched the nuclear football, apologized.
Such incidents are not uncommon when U.S. leaders visit China. For example, when former President Barack Obama visited, the Chinese tried to prevent then National Security Adviser Susan Rice from joining the president.
Is is, however, unclear if the Axios report is completely accurate, as the Secret Service has denied any involvement in a physical altercation with the Chinese.
FACT CHECK: Reports about Secret Service agents tackling a host nation official during the President’s trip to China in Nov 2017 are false
— U.S. Secret Service (@SecretService) February 19, 2018
ALSO WATCH: Trump Visits China
The president’s trip to China was generally pleasant. But, while interactions between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping were cordial, old feuds and irreconcilable differences between the U.S. and China continue to sour the bilateral relationship. For instance, in recent weeks, the two countries have clashed over the South China Sea and unfair trade, and North Korea still poses a threat to the safety and security of the region.
Update: This piece was updated to include the Secret Service’s response to the Axios post.
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