Soldiers from the United States have been training forces in Taiwan for at least a year, new reports have shown. This Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported that a US special operations group and support troops have been training small units of ground forces, while US Marines work on small-boat training, according to unnamed “US officials”. As it stands, the Pentagon have neither confirmed or denied these reports. The presence of serving US military on the island of Taiwan undermines agreements made between the USA and mainland China, including the 1979 agreement to sever formal between the USA and Taiwan, and withdraw its forces.
These new developments follow reports from last November (2020) that a team of the US Marine Raiders Regiment had travelled to Taiwan to train marines there, something US officials refused to confirm at the time. Taiwan-based United Daily News reported the Marines were there to provide training “in assault boat and speedboat infiltration operations at the Tsoying Naval Base in Kaohsiung”. However, John Supple, spokesman for the US Defence Department, said, “The reports about U.S. Marines on Taiwan are inaccurate. The United States remains committed to our One-China Policy based on the three Joint Communiques, Taiwan Relations Act, and Six Assurances”.
US President Joe Biden says the matter of Taiwan was discussed last he and President Xi Jinping met. “We agree,” claims Biden, “we’ll abide by the Taiwan agreement, and we made it clear that I don’t think he [President Xi] should be doing anything other than abiding by the agreement“.
Last week (beg. October 4) the air force of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) carried out extensive operations within Taiwan’s Air Defence Identification Zone. Around 150 sorties were made in one week. Operations included the flights of fighter jets, bombers, and anti-submarine craft. Such moves serve to remind the island’s secessionist forces of the capabilities of the PLA, and their commitment to achieving reunification.
Chang Ya-Chung, who came second in the Kuomintang leadership election, argued Taiwan’s ruling pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party are ambivalent, wanting both to bring the US on board, while also fearing mainland Chinese retaliation. He suggested that Taiwanese secessionists now have no choice but to serve as a proxy for the US. “It is very possible for the US to send military personnel to assist training of Taiwan forces,” says Chang. “They may do so by not wearing uniforms, and by suspending their military status, which can be resumed after they return to the US”.
On Friday (October 8), spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, Zhao Lijian, called for the US to cease all arms sales to Taiwan: “In the communiqué on the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the US, the US clearly pledged to only maintain cultural, commercial, and other unofficial ties with Taiwan”.
Addressing a meeting to mark the 110th anniversary of the 1911 revolution, President Xi Jinping said “the Taiwan question is purely an internal matter for China, one which brooks no external interference. The complete reunification of our country will be and can be realised”.