China and the United States could end up in a military conflict if the United States encourages Taiwan’s independence, Beijing’s ambassador to Washington said in a U.S. radio interview broadcast on Friday.

China considers the neighboring, democratically ruled island of Taiwan its “sacred” territory and has never renounced the use of force to ensure eventual unification.

“Let me emphasize this. The Taiwan issue is the biggest tinder-box between China and the United States,” Qin Gang told National Public Radio.

“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,” he said.

Asked to comment, the U.S. Defense Department said the United States remained committed to its “one China” policy and its commitments under the U.S. Taiwan Relations Act.

Under the long-standing policy, Washington officially recognizes Beijing rather than Taipei, while the act requires the United States to provide Taiwan with the means 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 Pentagon spokesperson said.

Taiwan 'Biggest Tinder-Box' Between US, China: Chinese Envoy

China-Taiwan Conflict: Tensions have soared as China steps up air incursions near Taiwan.Washington: 

China and the United States could end up in a military conflict if the United States encourages Taiwan’s independence, Beijing’s ambassador to Washington said in a U.S. radio interview broadcast on Friday.

China considers the neighboring, democratically ruled island of Taiwan its “sacred” territory and has never renounced the use of force to ensure eventual unification.

“Let me emphasize this. The Taiwan issue is the biggest tinder-box between China and the United States,” Qin Gang told National Public Radio.

“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,” he said.

Asked to comment, the U.S. Defense Department said the United States remained committed to its “one China” policy and its commitments under the U.S. Taiwan Relations Act.

Under the long-standing policy, Washington officially recognizes Beijing rather than Taipei, while the act requires the United States to provide Taiwan with the means 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 Pentagon spokesperson said.https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.496.0_en.html#goog_623395042Ads by 

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The U.S. State Department and White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Qin’s remark, which came just hours after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi discussed the crisis over Ukraine.

While Chinese officials have warned of military action over Taiwan, it is unusual for them to link it directly to the United States.

Tensions between Beijing and Taipei have escalated in recent months as China’s military has conducted repeated air missions over the Taiwan Strait, the waterway separating the island from China.

U.S. President Joe Biden has said that the United States was not encouraging independence for Taiwan, but he caused a stir in October when he said it would come to the island’s defense if China attacked.