In a extended interview with the Washington Post posted Monday, GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson said he should have never stated that the Chinese were involved in the Syrian conflict, while also standing by the claim and arguing “that Chinese have physical characteristics that would make them pretty easy to identify in a setting like that.”
The two Post reporters — whom the neurosurgeon hosted in his home last week — asked the neurosurgeon if he had any regrets, particularly in terms of policy ideas he put forward.
“As far as the China thing was concerned, I probably shouldn’t have said that. I said that on the basis of what some people in the CIA tell me,” Carson said, arguing that eventually information came out that supported his claim that the Chinese had a role in the crisis in Syria.
“But they made it seem like I’m saying there are a bunch of Chinese boots on the ground,” Carson continued. “Well, everybody knows that Chinese have physical characteristics that would make them pretty easy to identify in a setting like that.”
Carson was widely mocked for saying during a November GOP debate that “the Chinese are there” during a rambling answer to a question about Syria. Current and former national security officials dismissed the claim, while Carson’s campaign defended the “sources” that told Carson the Chinese were involved.
“That kind of stuff is frustrating,” Carson told the Washington Post. “But it’s something that I’ve learned. You continue to learn that everything you say is going to be dissected and used in a negative way, if possible. I’m learning. I wish I didn’t have to learn that.”