China’s ambassador to the United States, Qin Gang, has warned of a military conflict should the U.S. continue to “embolden” Taiwan as an independent state.
Qin made the comments during his first one-on-one interview since starting his post in July 2021. He stated that “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.” The threat came during an interview with NPR at Qin’s official residence in Washington, D.C.
The purpose of the interview was to discuss the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing and U.S. relations with China. In December, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian threatened that the U.S. would “pay a price” for it’s decision to hold a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics due to the ongoing human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims.
Here’s our talk with @AmbQinGang on the Olympics, Uighurs, Taiwan and his new post in the US. His bottom line on US-China relations: “Don’t mess it up.”
— Steve Inskeep (@NPRinskeep) January 28, 2022
Qin noted that Taiwan is the “biggest tinder box.” China’s military has flown demonstrations and various military exercises over and near Taiwan. One was conducted during a surprise visit by U.S. lawmakers in November.
Tensions have grown between the U.S., Taiwan and China, stoked by the presence of U.S. troops in Taiwan since October.
“People on both sides of Taiwan Straits are Chinese, so we are compatriots. So the last thing we should do is to fight with compatriots. And we will do our utmost in the greatest sincerity to achieve a peaceful reunification … China will not commit to giving up the un-peaceful means for reunification because this is a deterrence,” Qin told NPR. (RELATED: Despite Afghanistan, The US Will Come To Taiwan’s Defense If China Invaded, Experts Say)
During the interview, Qin said any ideas the U.S. has of “changing China” were “an illusion” and that the U.S.-China relationship is “most important.” He warned Washington not to “mess it up.”