The US has had boots on the ground in Taiwan for nearly a year in the form of a special operations unit and a small force of Marines training local military, in an effort to bolster the island nation’s defenses amid China’s increasingly provocative behavior, according to a report.
Roughly two dozen members of US special operations are working with Taiwan’s ground forces while the Marines are helping with small-boat training, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.
The presence of the US forces illustrates the Pentagon’s concern about Taiwan’s ability to defend itself in the wake of the Chinese military buildup and the People’s Liberation Army’s flights violating Taiwan’s airspace a record number of times in the past week, the report said.
The flights have served as a reminder that the Chinese Communist Party believes Taiwan is part of its territory and is prepared to take over what it considers a rogue province by force.
Further escalating the tensions between Beijing and Washington are naval maneuvers the US and its allies are conducting in South China — a waterway the Chinese Communist Party insists is part of its territory.
China warned on Wednesday that the buildup in the region has the militaries “teetering on the edge of a face-off” and insisted that Taiwan will never be allowed to secede.
And Taiwan’s Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said the situation “is the most severe in the 40 years since I’ve enlisted” and predicted that China will be able to invade Taiwan by 2025.
China’s military intrusions pose a “real and imminent” threat to Taiwan, James Moriarty, the chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan, said in a speech Wednesday evening.
Moriarty, the head of the agency that represents US interests in Taiwan, said the intimidation tactics highlight the need for the island to bolster its defensive capabilities.
According to the 1979 Taiwan agreement, the US must provide aid if Taiwan is attacked.
President Biden said he and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping agree to abide by that agreement, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated the US commitment is “rock solid.”
Diplomatic efforts to tamp down the tensions in the region and provide international solidarity continued Thursday as a contingent of French lawmakers and former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott arrived in Taiwan.
”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 said after meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai-wen in Taipei.
France’s former defense minister Alain Richard and four senators also arrived in Taiwan on Thursday.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan met Wednesday with China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi in Zurich, Switzerland.
With Post wires