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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Taiwan confirms presence of US special forces

The Taiwanese defense chief has confirmed US troops are training the island’s army, with some stationed 10km from mainland China

US special forces personnel are stationed on some of Taiwan’s outlying islands training its armed forces, the island’s defense authority chief Chiu Kuo-cheng confirmed to the press on Thursday.

The official was asked to confirm media reports of a permanent US army presence in Taiwan on the sidelines of a legislative hearing, the news website Focus Taiwan wrote on Thursday. Chiu stated that US service members are training Taiwanese troops, helping them identify weaknesses and blind spots.

Read more: China Urges US to Cease ‘Interference’ in Taiwan Affairs Amid Congressional Visit

Last week, the US military news site Special Operations Forces Report (SOFREP) wrote that America’s “Green Berets” were planned to be deployed to Taiwan to act as permanent training observers and prepare the island’s special units. This represents a departure from past practice that saw frequent but non-permanent visits by US personnel to Taiwanese training facilities, the report said. The permanent US forces, according to the article, would be situated on the Kinmen Islands, just 10 kilometers from mainland China.

Beijing sees the self-governing isle as part of China’s sovereign territory, and has repeatedly warned it against formally declaring independence. Although Taiwan has governed itself since 1949, most of the international community, including the US, does not officially recognize it as a sovereign state.

While the US does not officially support Taiwanese independence, it maintains security ties with the island. Under the ‘Taiwan Enhanced Resilience Act 2022,’ to “deter People’s Republic of China (PRC) aggression against Taiwan” the US is authorized to spend up to $2 billion a year in military grants to bolster the island’s security up until 2027.

Read more: China vows crackdown on ‘Taiwan independence’ ahead of local elections

Mainland China has slammed the increased rotation of US military personnel to the island. The US always prioritizes its own interests, and Taiwan is merely a “pawn” it uses against mainland China, Beijing’s spokesman Chen Binhua stated on Wednesday. He claimed that by closely aligning with the US to carry out so-called military training programs,” Taiwan’s political leadership is gradually “pushing the people of Taiwan into a crisis.”

“Any attempt to seek ‘independence’ through military means or rely on external forces for ‘independence’ will only lead to danger and ultimately result in self-destruction for Taiwan,” he warned.