Amid the rising tensions between the United States and China, Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen for the first time acknowledged the presence of American troops on Taiwanese soil for training purposes. She said she has "faith" the United States would defend the island against a Chinese attack.
Speaking to CNN in an interview aired on Wednesday, Tsai said that the threat from Beijing is growing "every day." Tsai didn't say exactly how many U.S. military personnel are on the island at present but said it was "not as many as people thought." She also explained that Taiwan had a "wide range of cooperation with the U.S. aiming at increasing our defense capability".
China's Increasing Aggression Against Taiwan
"Here is this island of 23 million people trying hard every day to protect ourselves and protect our democracy and making sure that our people have the kind of freedom they deserve," she said.
"If we fail, then that means people that believe in these values would doubt whether these are values that they (should) be fighting for."
The remarks come days after President Joe Biden said the U.S. would defend Taiwan if China attacked, in an apparent departure from a long-held U.S. foreign policy position. Biden was speaking at a CNN town hall event last Thursday.
The U.S. has a law which requires it to help Taiwan defend itself. But it pursues a policy of "strategic ambiguity," where it is deliberately vague about what it would actually do if China were to attack Taiwan.
US Army Special Forces Secretly Training Soldiers in Taiwan Since 2020?
According to CNN, Tsai became the first Taiwan President in decades to acknowledge the presence of American troops on the island for training purposes. The last official U.S. garrison left was in 1979, the year Washington switched formal diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing, reported ANI. However, some media reports suggested that America's special operations forces have been quietly training Taiwanese troops for nearly a year.
Tsai is Inviting Trouble: Global Times
While Taiwan is an ally of the United States, this extended military support and strategic assistance stands at risk of infuriating China.
China's state tabloid the Global Times published an article titled "Tsai is inviting trouble by confirming presence of US troops on Taiwan." The article targeted Tsai and condemned her remarks.
"Regardless of the purpose, the fact that US troops are stationed in Taiwan has crossed the bottom line. It is one of the most dangerous factors that could trigger a war in the Taiwan Straits," says the Global Times piece.
It furthers says, "We believe that people like Tsai Ing-wen and Joseph Wu have been extremely worried and troubled for a long time. They clearly understand that their secessionist ideas will never ever be accepted by the 1.4 billion Chinese people. The more these people collude with external forces, the faster the punishment from the mainland will arrive."