Trump team in 'tussle for nuclear football codes' on China trip

White House chief of staff John Kelly listens as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a briefing with senior military leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House October 5, 2017 in Washington, D.C. Kelly and Chinese officials reportedly scuffled over the U.S. nuclear football during Trump's visit to China last November, Axios reported on Sunday.

When the USA military aide carrying the football entered the Great Hall, Axios reported, Chinese security officials blocked his entry.

The nuclear football is the black briefcase containing the nuclear launch codes for the president. For the safety of this object is the responsibility of employees of the Secret service, the Agency dealing with the protection of the President, his family and the White house.

A Chinese security official then grabbed Kelly, and Kelly shoved the man's hand off of his body, according to Axios.

The so-called U.S. "president's emergency satchel" is used to be carried by a military aide, who is required to remain close to the Commander-in-Chief at all times. A Secret Service officer then tackled the Chinese official and wrestled him to the ground.

At no time, according to Axios, did the Chinese control the "nuclear football", and US officials were asked to keep quiet about the November 9 incident, which may have been a misunderstanding.

Chinese officials have become increasingly assertive about their authority with the aides of visiting USA dignitaries. In September 2016, former president Barack Obama too was subjected to a snub when he arrived for the G-20 summit in the Chinese city of Hangzhou.

When the White House official insisted that the USA would set the rules for its own leader, her Chinese counterpart shot back in English: "This is our country!" The Chinese security detail later apologized over the misunderstanding, Axios said. "This is our airport!" The entire scuffle was over in just a few seconds.

However, this isn't the first time the Trump administration has reportedly shown a neglectful attitude towards national security.

"We're moving in", Kelly said - and his team all started moving.

Vanessa Coleman