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China’s ambassador to the US on Friday warned that the two countries could face a potential “military conflict” over the status of Taiwan.
Ambassador Qin Gang made the bold claim in an interview with NPR on Thursday, accusing the US of encouraging Taiwan to seek independence.
“If the Taiwanese authorities, emboldened by the United States, keep going down the road for independence, it most likely will involve China and the United States, the two big countries, in a military conflict,” Qin said.
The issue of Taiwan is “the biggest tinderbox between China and the United States,” he said.
China has asserted its claim over the democratic island nation, considering it a breakaway province.
Earlier this week, 39 Chinese military planes entered Taiwan’s airspace in a show of force, prompting a scrambled activation of Taiwanese jets and air defense missiles. The testy incursion is the largest since October, when China authorized nearly 150 flights over Taiwan’s air defense zone.
The State Department said in a statement to The Post on Monday that it was “concerned by the PRC’s provocative military activity near Taiwan,” saying it was “destabilizing, risks miscalculation, and undermines regional peace and stability.”
“The US commitment to Taiwan is rock solid and contributes to the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and within the region,” the department added. “We will continue to stand with friends and allies to advance our shared prosperity, security, and values. We will continue to deepen our ties with democratic Taiwan.”
Last week, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told reporters he believes China will launch an invasion of Taiwan sometime after the Winter Olympics in Beijing, which begin next Friday.
In the one-on-one interview with NPR — Qin’s first since assuming his post in Washington, DC last July — the ambassador discussed growing tensions in the region, as well as the upcoming Olympics.
Qin said that China’s relationship with the US “is the most important,” despite growing tensions after Washington’s decision to take part in a diplomatic boycott of the games in protest of human-rights abuses, most notably genocidal actions against Uyghur Muslims and in the northwest province of Xinjiang.
Qin denied that there was such a genocide.
“The actual condition is that Uyghur people as other ethnic groups of people, they enjoy happy life,” he claimed. “They enjoy the rights and the freedom guaranteed by the constitution of China. They are a member of the big family of Chinese nation. This co-called genocide or forced labor — these are big lies of the century. There’s no genocide at all.”