Chinese Journo Denounces ‘US Invaders’ Amid News of Secret Special Forces Training on Taiwan
19:57 GMT 07.10.2021 (Updated: 19:58 GMT 07.10.2021)
After reports appeared in US media on Thursday that a small number of US troops had secretly been deployed to Taiwan for more than a year, a leading Chinese journalist has called on them to reveal their locations on the autonomous island, which China claims as its own territory.
The Wall Street Journal
reported on Thursday, citing anonymous US officials, that two dozen US Special Operations forces and US Marines had been in Taiwan for more than a year, where they have been training Taiwanese forces amid heightened tensions with China.
In response to the story, the Chinese Foreign Ministry told the WSJ that “China will take all necessary steps to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity” and that it expects the US to adhere to its prior agreements about the status of Taiwan. When it established relations with the People’s Republic of China in 1979, the US agreed to end
its political and military support for the government in Taiwan, which Beijing regards as a rebellious province of China.
In response to an inquiry by the WSJ on Thursday, Pentagon spokesperson John Supple said the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, passed by Congress to outline its future informal relations with Taiwan, “provides for assessments of Taiwan’s defense needs and the threat posed by the People’s Republic of China,” as the paper put it.
“I would note the PRC has stepped up efforts to intimidate and pressure Taiwan, including increasing military activities conducted in the vicinity of Taiwan, which we believe are destabilizing and increase the risk of miscalculation,” Supple also said.
However, Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the Global Times, an outlet owned by the Communist Party paper People’s Daily, had some sharper words for Washington.
“Why just two dozen members? Why secretly? The US should send 240 servicemen publicly, in US military uniform, and make public where they are stationed,” Hu tweeted on Thursday. “See whether the PLA will launch a targeted air strike to eliminate those US invaders!”
The Pentagon and Taiwanese governments had no comment about the Journal’s story. However, in a separate comment on Thursday, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said that the US “commitment to Taiwan is rock solid” and that the US “will continue to deepen our ties” with Taiwan.
The revelation also vindicates reports in Taiwanese media in November of 2020 that US Marines were operating on the island. As Sputnik reported
at the time, the report originated with Taiwanese Naval Command, which said that special “Marine Raiders” would be there for four weeks for “routine Taiwan-US military exchange and cooperation training.”
Supple told US military publication Stars and Stripes
at the time that the reports were “inaccurate.” However, Taiwan News responded by pulling the veil back even further.
“The US sends small units of elite troops of other branches of the armed forces for joint training missions to Taiwan on an annual basis, but they are rarely acknowledged by the Taiwan government. For example, the ROC Army Aviation and Special Forces Command and United States Army Special Forces (the Green Berets) every year hold a joint exercise called Balance Tamper,” the Taipei-based publication
wrote on November 13. The War Zone, a US-based defense news publication, published ultra-rare footage
it had identified of the Balance Temper drills the previous June.
Ironically, at his confirmation hearing in May, US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict Christopher Maier told
the Senate Armed Services Committee that the US should be training Taiwanese forces in guerrilla tactics to resist a theoretical Chinese invasion.
In response to a question
by US Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) about US Special Forces training their Taiwanese counterparts along the lines of how they trained US allies in the Baltic States, Maier said it was “a key contributor” and something the US “should be considering strongly.”
Sputnik has also reported on mysterious flights
to and from the island, including by cargo aircraft operated by companies with known links to the US Central Intelligence Agency. Their movements have also been documented by online flight tracking services.
Standing ‘Shoulder to Shoulder’
Also on Thursday, former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott made a high-profile visit to Taipei, where he expressed hope Canberra’s support for Taiwan would increase. Like the US, Australia recognizes the Chinese government as the single government of all of China, and maintains only informal relations with the Taiwanese government via a liaison office.
“It is in large measure to try to help to end this isolation from which Taiwan has been suffering for so many decades that I am here in this country and I do hope that this will be the first of many visits,” Abbott told Taiwanese
President Tsai Ing-wen, seeming to describe Taiwan as a separate country.
“You have demonstrated to all of the countries of this region that it is possible to be both rich and free and it is possible to have both liberty and democracy,” he further said. “Of course not everyone and not everywhere is pleased [by] Taiwan’s progress, and I do note that Taiwan is challenged on an almost daily basis by its giant neighbour. It’s more important than ever, under such circumstances, that your fellow democracies stand shoulder to shoulder with you.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, no friend of China’s, told reporters on Thursday that Abbott was “a private citizen” visiting Taiwan in his own capacity.
Last month, Australia, the US, and the United Kingdom came together to sign a new military cooperation agreement they termed AUKUS. While billed as a simple defense agreement that will provide, among other things, a new fleet of nuclear-powered submarines to Australia, the deal is widely seen as aimed at China. Another regional bloc, the Quad group, also includes Japan and India in addition to Australia and the US, who have described it as complementary
Beijing has described the new defense agreements as “pseudo-multilateralism”
and said they provoke “discord” among nations
of the region.