'Playing With Fire': Chinese State Media Claims Deployment of US Troops to Taiwan Might Prompt War
© AP Photo / Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Samantha JetzerIn this photo provided by U.S. Navy, an F/A-18E Super Hornet lands on the flight deck of the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), as USS Nimitz (CVN 68) steams alongside in the South China Sea, Monday, July 6, 2020.
© AP Photo / Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Samantha Jetzer
A US media outlet reported that a small detachment of American forces had been secretly deployed to the island, which China considers part of its territory, to train local troops amid fears of a possible invasion by Beijing's forces.
The reported deployment of American troops in Taiwan might accelerate the drift to a potential armed conflict between China and the island, Chinese state media outlet the Global Times, wrote in its editorial. The outlet, whose editor-in-chief Hu Xijin called on Beijing to "launch a targeted air strike" to kill American troops on the island, suggested that the move, initially reported by the Wall Street Journal on 7 October, serves as another step by Washington to undermine normal relations between the US and China.
"The US wants to get on the mainland's nerves. This is a consistent tactic of Washington. The mainland must respond to the US' new provocations to make both Washington and the island of Taiwan fully realize the severity of their collusion", the newspaper wrote.
The Global Times alleged that the publication of unconfirmed information about the US troops' presence on the island, which Beijing considers a breakaway province, was released on purpose with Washington's approval. The Chinese media outlet claimed that this was done to provoke a conflict between China and Taiwan and to justify increasing the official and real US military presence in the region, which is already causing concerns and protests in Beijing.
American warships routinely sail through the disputed waters of the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait despite warnings and objections from Beijing. Washington claims that these moves are carried out in order to maintain freedom of navigation, which Beijing is purportedly hurting with its actions. China has condemned these missions as provocations directed against Beijing and cautioned that they could one day lead to an armed confrontation.
4 October 2021, 15:14 GMT
The continued US presence in the region has sparked theories that Washington is preparing for a possible Chinese invasion of the island. These fears grew stronger as Taipei reported around 50 Chinese aircraft flying close to the island's air identification zone several days in a row last week. In addition, Washington vowed to respond to an invasion if one were to take place, but did not go into specifics or pledge to protect Taiwan against a possible attack by the Chinese military.
US, Taiwan 'Playing With Fire'
The Chinese newspaper went on to suggest that China must let both the US and the island know that they are "playing with fire" and that the potential result of this game will be "unbearable to both". The Global Times alleged that even though the US and the island are preparing for a potential military operation by Beijing, Chinese troops would be able to seize the island and the US forces would "be the first to be eliminated".
While the Global Times editorial does not amount to official Chinese policy, the leadership of the state-run media in China are relatively close to the Chinese Communist Party and its Politburo Standing Committee. The views presented in these outlets are not only heard in the halls of power in the country, but could potentially represent some of the views circulating within the Chinese government. While President Xi Jinping has clearly stated that the unification of Mainland China and Taiwan is one of his goals, there has been no announcement from Beijing so far that a plan to achieve this has been set in motion.