China’s ambassador to the US warned Friday that Washington’s increasing support for Taiwan could ultimately lead to a war between the US and China.
Ambassador Qin Gang said the US is “emboldening” independence forces in Taiwan. “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 the military conflict,” he said in an interview with NPR.
Qin called the issue of Taiwan the “biggest tinderbox between China and the United States.” He said that people in Taiwan and China are “compatriots” and don’t want to fight, but because Taiwan is “working down the road towards independence … China will not commit to giving up the un-peaceful means for reunification because this is a deterrence.”
Starting under the Trump administration, the US has been taking steps to increase military and diplomatic ties with Taiwan. In August 2020, Trump sent then-Health Secretary Alex Azar to Taiwan, making him the highest-level US official to visit the island since Washington severed diplomatic relations with Taipei in 1979.
Since the Azar visit, the State Department under both the Trump and Biden administrations adopted policies to encourage contacts between US and Taiwanese officials, and US congressional delegations are visiting Taiwan more frequently.
Since 1979, the US has sold weapons to Taiwan and deployed small numbers of troops to train Taiwanese forces. But the deployment of US troops to Taiwan was always unofficial until last year. In October, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen confirmed the presence of US troops in Taiwan, making her the first Taiwanese leader to do so in decades.
Besides boosting ties with Taiwan, the US has also significantly increased its military activity in the South China Sea and other waters near Taiwan and China, causing Beijing to do the same, turning the region into a potential flashpoint for war.