China’s Ambassador Warns of “Military Conflict” With the US Over Taiwan: In a rare explicit threat to the possibility of open warfare with the U.S., China’s ambassador to the United States has said the two countries could face a “military conflict” over the future of Taiwan.
“Let me emphasize this…the Taiwan issue is the biggest tinderbox between China and the United States,” Qin Gang said in a radio interview with National Public Radio (NPR), on Friday.
“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.”
Olympics Once Again Political Theater
Ambassador Qin spoke with NPR at his official residence in a taped interview on Thursday and spoke at length about US-Chinese relations, as well as the upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing. “Beijing is ready,” he said, referencing that athletes will live in a bubble during the games to protect them from the COVID-19 virus.
While American athletes will compete in the Olympics, the United States’ diplomats will boycott the games as the Biden administration will not send any official representation to Beijing for the Olympics, citing the Chinese government’s “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity” against the Uyghur Muslims, an ethnic minority in the Xinjiang province.
“The athletes on Team USA have our full support. We will be behind them 100% as we cheer them on from home,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, but added, “We will not be contributing to the fanfare of the games.”
Qin said that many of the Uyghurs were terrorists, “The destination for them is prisons,” he said while admitting that they were sent to re-education camps to change their way of thinking, referring to these as “vocational schools.”
He was adamant that the U.S. accusations were “fabrications, lies, and disinformation.”
Chinese Step Up Disinformation Operations in Taiwan:
However, on the subject of Taiwan, the Chinese have been conducting their own disinformation operations. More than 400 fake accounts coming from Chinese content farms run by the PRC have flooded social media, internet forums, and online chatrooms that are popular among the Taiwanese population to undercut the public’s trust in the government, destabilize Taiwanese society and meddle in elections, the country’s Investigation Bureau said. Since last year, they’ve uncovered nearly 2,800 cases of this.
“These accounts are specializing in posting fake news and disinformation to undermine the COVID-19 measures implemented by Taiwan’s health authorities, create confusion, and circulate politically charged messages to generate disputes and conflicts,” said an official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “These are clearly products of China’s content farms.”
While the Pentagon continues to be committed to its “one China” policy, under the U.S. Taiwan Relations Act, where Washington recognizes Beijing and not Taipei, under the act’s provisions, the Pentagon continues to provide the means for Taiwan to defend itself.
“We will continue to assist Taiwan in maintaining a sufficient self-defense capability while also maintaining our own capacity to resist any use of force that would jeopardize the security of the people of Taiwan,” a spokesperson for the Defense Department said.
Chinese Continue to Pressure Taiwan’s Air Force
Beijing considers Taiwan to be a breakaway province of China. The former government of China, which was supported by the United States, retreated to the island after being defeated in a civil war in 1949 by communist forces led by Mao Zedong. Back in November the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, told President Biden that any support for Taiwanese independence from the U.S. would be “like playing with fire” and that “those who play with fire will get burned”.
The Chinese continue to ratchet up the pressure, especially with the U.S. consumed with the ongoing situation in Ukraine. Last Sunday, 39 planes from the PRC flew into Taiwan’s protected airspace, the largest incursion since they flew 56 aircraft into Taiwanese airspace in October.
Taiwanese Semiconductor Industry a Hot Point
The U.S. is also concerned about the semiconductor industry in Taiwan and how China could use a cyber attack to cripple it. With 75 percent of the semiconductor industry based in East Asia, and 90 percent of the most advanced semiconductors being produced in Taiwan, that industry is also a major target for the Chinese to corner the market.
The Biden administration is asking Congress to support bills that would increase the U.S. manufacturing of semiconductors to diversify the global market and make it less prone to the Chinese possibly disrupting it.
“Today we barely produce 10 percent of the computer chips, despite being the leader in chip design and research,” the president said. “And we don’t have the ability to make the most advanced chips now — right now…China is doing everything it can to take over the global market so they can try to outcompete the rest of us and have a lot of applications — including military applications.”
Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. He has served as a US Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer before injuries forced his early separation. In addition to writing for 1945, he covers the NFL for PatsFans.com and his work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.