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US Forces Secretly Training Taiwan Military as Threat From Beijing Grows

Published: October 11, 2021
Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen (C) attends an inauguration ceremony of a Ta Chiang Corvette at a navy base in Yilan on September 9, 2021. (Image: SAM YEH/AFP via Getty Images)

Approximately two dozen members of U.S. special-operations and support troops are engaged in training Taiwan’s military forces, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ). 

In addition, local maritime forces are working with U.S. Marines on small-boat training. Unnamed officials revealed to the WSJ that American forces have been operating in Taiwan for at least a year, with their aim being to bolster the island’s defense capabilities.

The Pentagon has not made any comments to verify the revelations made in the WSJ report. “I don’t have any comments on specific operations, engagements, or training, but I would like to highlight that our support for and defense relationship with Taiwan remains aligned against the current threat posed by the People’s Republic of China,” Pentagon spokesperson John Supple said in a statement.

The Defense Ministry of Taiwan has also not issued any clarifications on the matter, only saying that “all military exchanges are carried out in accordance with annual plans.” 

Taiwan’s Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng had earlier admitted that military tensions between the island and Beijing are at their highest in 40 years. He also warned that Beijing will be in a position to launch a full-scale attack on Taiwan by 2025.

The communist People’s Republic of China (PRC) views Taiwan as a wayward province and President Xi Jinping has vowed to unify the island with the PRC, even with the use of military force. Taiwan, on the other hand, considers itself to be separate from the communist regime, and is willing to fight to maintain its freedom and democracy.

In the first four days of October, Beijing sent nearly 150 warplanes into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ). The sorties included H-6 strategic bombers, J-16 jet fighters, and Y-8 submarine-spotting aircraft. Officials in Taiwan and the U.S. have expressed growing alarm over these actions.

“The PRC (People’s Republic of China) has stepped up efforts to intimidate and pressure Taiwan and other allies and partners, including increasing military activities conducted in the vicinity of Taiwan, East China Sea and South China Sea which we believe are destabilizing and increase the risk of miscalculation,” Supple told VOA in a statement.

The U.S. is Taiwan’s main ally, supplying it with the necessary military equipment to defend itself. According to U.S. government officials, Taiwan’s investments in its defense must be both smart and extensive. 

“Taiwan badly neglected its national defense for the first 15 years or so of this century, buying too much expensive equipment that will get destroyed in the first hours of a conflict, and too little in the way of cheaper but lethal systems—anti-ship missiles, smart sea mines, and well-trained reserve and auxiliary forces—that could seriously complicate Beijing’s war plans,” Matt Pottinger, who served as a deputy national security adviser during the Donald Trump administration, told the WSJ.