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Chinese Ambassador to US Warns of ‘Military Conflict’ Over Taiwan: NPR

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Chinese Ambassador to US Warns of ‘Military Conflict’ Over Taiwan: NPR

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Veteran Chinese diplomat Qin Gang, Chinese Ambassador to the United States, speaks with NPR’s Steve Inskeep at Qin’s official residence in Washington, DC on Thursday.

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China’s ambassador to the United States issued a warning on Thursday that the United States could face a “military dispute” with China over Taiwan’s future status.

In his first one-on-one interview since taking office in Washington, DC, last July, Qin Gang accused Taiwan of “walking the path of independence” and added, “If the Taiwanese authorities, emboldened by the United States, to continue on the road to independence will most likely involve China and the United States, the two great countries, in a military conflict. »

It was an unusually direct statement about the United States and Taiwan. Observers say China is more often speaking in more general terms, such as saying the United States is “playing with fire.”

Although American eyes may be focused thousands of miles away on a threat of war in Ukraine, American officials and analysts have expressed growing concern about Taiwan’s ability to defend itself. This week, 39 Chinese military planes flew near Taiwan, the latest of several such protests. It is widely believed that the United States would defend Taiwan in the event of war, although no formal treaty requires it to do so.

Ambassador Qin spoke about Taiwan at his official residence on Thursday, where he hosted the NPR team to discuss US relations with China and the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing. He is a seasoned diplomat who previously served as Chinese President Xi Jinping’s foreign affairs chief of protocol.

Qin arrived in Washington last year at a time of bipartisan disappointment with China. It is widely believed in Washington that a decades-long policy of engagement with China has produced great wealth for many companies, but has failed to spark democratic reform. Qin told us that any idea of ​​”changing China” was always “an illusion”.

Chinese Ambassador to US Warns of ‘Military Conflict’ Over Taiwan: NPR

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Qin Gang, Chinese Ambassador to the United States, poses for a portrait at his official residence in Washington, DC on Thursday.

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Chinese Ambassador to US Warns of ‘Military Conflict’ Over Taiwan: NPR

 |  Today Headlines

Qin Gang, Chinese Ambassador to the United States, poses for a portrait at his official residence in Washington, DC on Thursday.

Shuran Huang/for NPR

He spoke of the next Olympic Games with pride: “Beijing is ready”. It is the second Olympic Games to be hosted by Beijing, with athletes and others largely living in a secure “bubble” to protect against infection from the coronavirus.

A “diplomatic boycott” of the Games by US officials has added tension, although US athletes will compete and only a few US allies have followed suit. The United States announced the boycott to protest what it calls the “ongoing genocide” of Uyghurs, a predominantly Muslim minority in western China. Qin dismissed charges such as “fabrications, lies and misinformation”.

He nevertheless claimed that some Uyghurs were terrorists.

“The destination for them is prisons,” he said, while claiming others had inappropriate thoughts that they were being taught to change in “vocational schools”.

NPR correspondents have documented the widespread imprisonment of Uyghurs, as well as efforts to turn them away from their language and culture. NPR also reported security architecture in the western province of Xinjiang that is even more intense than in other parts of China, with cameras and police stations nearly ubiquitous.

The United States has become more vocal in defending the Uyghurs as global relations have soured. If either side was hoping for a reset in relations following the departure of former President Donald Trump, that hasn’t quite happened. President Biden has yet to remove Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods, and US diplomats have traded controversial statements with their Chinese counterparts.

Chinese Ambassador to US Warns of ‘Military Conflict’ Over Taiwan: NPR

 |  Today Headlines

Chinese Ambassador to the US Qin Gang called Taiwan ‘biggest powder keg’ among irritants in his country’s relations with the US

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Among the relationship’s many irritants, the ambassador described Taiwan as “the biggest powder keg”. It ruled itself separately for generations. Unlike the rest of China, Taiwan was not conquered by communist forces in the civil war that led to the declaration of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. The former government took refuge there and, with the support of the United States, eventually developed a democratic system.

Beijing has long sought unification with Taiwan and has not renounced the use of force to achieve this goal. The United States said it expected the matter to be resolved peacefully.

“People on both sides of the Taiwan Strait are Chinese,” Qin said, saying his government had no desire for war. However, in a blunt denial of any effort by the Taiwanese government to officially declare independence, he said, “China will not commit to giving up non-peaceful means of reunification because it is a deterrent.”

Even so, Qin said China’s “most important relationship” was with the United States, and gave a direct description of his mission to Washington: “Don’t waste it.”

Interview Highlights

On whether Americans should be worried about a Chinese attack on Taiwan:

“The Taiwan question is the biggest powder keg between China and the United States. If, you know, the Taiwanese authorities, emboldened by the United States, you know, continue on the road to independence, it will involve very probably China and the United States, the two big countries, in the military conflict.”

On the prospect of military conflict:

“People on both sides of the Taiwan Strait are Chinese, so we are compatriots. So the last thing we should do is fight with compatriots. And we will do everything possible in the utmost sincerity to achieve reunification. peaceful… But… that the Taiwanese authority is working on the road to independence, emboldened by the U.S. China will therefore not pledge to give up non-peaceful means of reunification because it is a deterrent.

On the policies and human rights abuses against predominantly Muslim Uighur populations in western China that prompted the US diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics:

“The real condition is that the Uyghurs, like other ethnic groups, enjoy a happy life. They enjoy the rights and freedom guaranteed by the constitution of China. They are members of the great family of the Chinese nation. This co-called genocide or forced labor – these are the big lies of the century. There is no genocide at all.

On whether Chinese President Xi Jinping thinks America’s global status is declining:

“No one in China bets against the United States. Everyone in China, including Chinese leaders, thinks that the United States is one of the most important countries. And the relationship between China and the United States is the most important relationship. We have to work hard at ‘not messing it up.'”

Chinese Ambassador to US Warns of ‘Military Conflict’ Over Taiwan: NPR

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