Taiwan's President Admits US Military Training Taiwanese Soldiers Amid 'Growing Chinese Threat'
08:32 GMT 28.10.2021 (Updated: 18:35 GMT 19.10.2022)
On Wednesday, Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu emphasised that the island should "beef up" its defence capabilities in the face of increasing tensions between Beijing and Taipei.
In an exclusive interview with CNN, Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen acknowledged the presence of US troops on Taiwanese territory for training purposes.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that US Marines and special operations forces had been secretly training Taiwan's soldiers "for more than a year".
Tsai did not elaborate on how many US military personnel are on the island but said it was "not as many as people thought".
She stressed that Taiwan has "a wide range of cooperation with the US aiming at increasing our [bilateral] defence capability".
When asked if Taiwan could defend itself without military assistance, Tsai said the island would do so "as long as we can", adding that "it's important that we have the support of our friends, and also like-minded countries".
The Taiwanese president asserted that the alleged threat from China "is increasing every day", but made it clear that Taipei is open to talks with Beijing.
"We have said again and again that we want to have dialogue with China and this is the best way to avoid misunderstanding, miscalculation, and misjudgment in the management of the cross-strait relations", Tsai emphasised.
Commenting on her remarks about the presence of US military trainers on Taiwanese territory, the Chinese Foreign Ministry stressed that Beijing firmly opposes any form of official exchanges and military contacts between the US and Taiwan.
China Issues Warning
The remarks followed Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin responding last week to US President Joe Biden's previous promise to "defend Taiwan". Wang urged POTUS not to underestimate China's commitment to its claims to the island.
"Taiwan is an inalienable part of China's territory", the spokesman stressed, adding that "the Taiwan issue is purely an internal affair of China that allows no foreign intervention".
The statement came after Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin reaffirmed Washington's commitment to the One China Policy – under which the US recognises the People's Republic as the one true China, but added the Biden administration would "continue to help Taiwan with resources and capabilities it needs to defend itself".
China-Taiwan Tensions on Rise
This was preceded by the Chinese military sending almost 40 fighter jets to fly near Taiwan's air defence identification zone for two days in a row in early October. Taiwan's Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang responded by condemning the flights as "brutal and barbarian actions", which he claimed were jeopardising regional peace.
The situation has been exacerbated by the US repeatedly sending its warships to the Taiwan Strait, separating the island from mainland China. Beijing dubs such missions provocations, slamming Washington as "the destroyer of peace and stability" in the Taiwan Strait
and "a security risk creator in the region".
29 August 2021, 13:55 GMT
Officially known as the Republic of China (ROC), Taiwan severed all ties with mainland China in 1949, in the wake of the Chinese Civil War.
At the time, forces led by then-Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party Mao Zedong
of the People's Republic of China (PRC) defeated the ROC's Kuomintang and forced them to flee to Taiwan. With both the ROC and the PRC claiming the country's territory, the UN recognised the PRC as the one and only legal China in 1971.
Beijing considers the island an integral part of the country, and adheres to a policy of peaceful reunification under the "One China – Two Systems"
The US does not have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but maintains a representative office in Taipei, remaining the island's biggest supplier of military hardware.