Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: China’s ambassador to the U.S. warns of ‘military conflict’ over Taiwan

China’s ambassador to the United States issued a warning: The U.S. could face “military conflict” with China over the future status of Taiwan. In his first one-on-one interview since assuming his post in Washington, D.C., last July, Qin Gang accused Taiwan of “walking down the road toward independence,” and added, “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.” (https://www.wbur.org/npr/1076246311/chinas-ambassador-to-the-u-s-warns-of-military-conflict-over-taiwan) It was an unusually direct statement about the U.S. and Taiwan. Observers say China usually speaks in more general terms, such as saying that the U.S. is “playing with fire.” Though American eyes may be focused thousands of miles away toward a threatened war in Ukraine, U.S. officials and analysts have voiced increasing concern about Taiwan’s ability to defend itself. This week, 39 Chinese military aircraft flew near Taiwan, the latest of several such demonstrations. It’s widely believed that the U.S. would defend Taiwan in the event of war, though no formal treaty requires it to do so. Ambassador Qin spoke of Taiwan at his official residence Thursday, where he welcomed NPR’s team to discuss U.S. relations with China and the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing. He is a veteran diplomat who previously served as the chief of foreign affairs protocol for China’s President Xi Jinping.

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