World American Troops in Taiwan Training Forces, President Tsai Ing-wen Confirms
Taiwan's Opinion of the Chinese Government Has Never Been Worse
Polling by a Beijing-friendly newspaper showed 10 percent of Taiwan's public was interested in some form of "unification" with China.According to an annual survey released by local paper United Daily News on Monday, Taiwan's sympathies for Chinese citizens have peaked during the presidency of Tsai Ing-wen, whose administration is most often accused of "desinicization" during its open opposition against the Chinese Communist Party leadership.
's president confirmed the presence of American service members on the island for the first time, offering a rare public acknowledgement of the extent of U.S. backing in the face of increasing military pressure.
In ainterview that aired on Wednesday evening Eastern Time, Tsai Ing-wen said the troops—previously as special forces instructors—were part of Taiwan's various military exchanges with the U.S.
Taiwan Vows to 'Defend Itself' Amid U.S. Reversal, Here's How Much Stronger China Is
"The complete reunification of the motherland must be fulfilled, and it will definitely be fulfilled," Ma Xiaoguang of China's Taiwan Affairs Council said.President Joe Biden stirred controversy during a Thursday evening town hall when he twice appeared to confirm that he had a commitment to protect Taiwan in the event of an attack, one that would presumably come from China, where President Xi Jinping has vowed to take reintegrate the rival government by diplomacy, or force, if necessary.
"We have a wide range of cooperation with the U.S. aiming at increasing our defense capability," the president said. Asked for a precise number, Tsai added: "Not as many as people thought."
Department of Defense figures show just over 30personnel are on the island for the purposes of securing the American Institute in Taiwan, which is the unofficial U.S. embassy in Taipei.
Speaking in parliament on Thursday morning Taipei time, Taiwan Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng told lawmakers that American instructors have worked with Taiwanese forces over successive administrations. He doesn't consider the deployment to be within the definition of a permanent U.S. military presence on the island.
For years, U.S.-Taiwan military exchanges have been thought of as an open secret—also known by the People's Republic of China (PRC) leadership in Beijing. However, Tsai became the first Taiwanese leader in decades to publicly acknowledge the existence of a training program.
Taiwan President Rebuffs China's Xi Jinping in Most Defiant Speech Yet
Tsai Ing-wen articulated her country's own "bottom line," which she described as the will of the Taiwanese people.In 5,000-word remarks for the 110th anniversary of the Republic of China (ROC)—Taiwan's formal name—Tsai called on her citizens to be "masters of our own destiny," in a speech her spokesperson described as a heartfelt message from a president who is no longer running for reelection.
During Chiu's appearance in front of the Taiwanese legislature's Foreign and National Defense Committee, more than one lawmaker pressed the defense chief on China's likely reaction.
In Beijing the same morning, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters: "We firmly oppose official exchanges and military contact of any kind between the United States and the Taiwan region."
In an editorial, China's Communist Party-owned newspaper Global Times said Tsai's confirmation was "inviting trouble."
Despite the sensitive nature of U.S. assistance in the training of Taiwanese forces, such programs remain within the scope of Washington's unofficial relationship with Taipei, which is guided by a central piece of American legislation known as the Taiwan Relations Act.
Supply of Defensive Arms
Provisions of the TRA—passed in 1979 and supported by then Senator—allow the U.S. to supply Taiwan with the necessary defensive arms and services to defend itself.
Taiwan hails first arms sale of Biden presidency
State Department officials approved the first arms sale to Taiwan of President Joe Biden’s tenure as the administration seeks to support the beleaguered island democracy without stumbling into an outright military confrontation with China. © Provided by Washington Examiner "By providing us with defensive weapons and helping us strengthen our self-defense capabilities, the US government is improving Taiwan's confidence in our efforts to ensure regional security and peace in the Taiwan Strait,” Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s office said in a statement released Thursday.
In comments to Newsweek earlier this month,spokesperson John Supple didn't confirm specific military operations in Taiwan, but noted: "The U.S. defense relationship with Taiwan is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act and based on an assessment of Taiwan's defense needs and the threat posed by the PRC, as has been the case for more than 40 years."
Supple said U.S. support and the "defense relationship with Taiwan remains aligned against the current threat posed by the [PRC]."
The TRA, however, is not an explicit guarantee of military assistance in the event of war across the Taiwan Strait. The official American position of "strategic ambiguity"—maintained for over four decades—is deliberately vague about a potential armed response on the part of the U.S.
But during a CNN town hall last week, Bidenas well as host when he answered "yes" to a question about whether he would defend Taiwan from a Chinese attack. The president said the U.S. had a "commitment" to Taiwan's defense, in remarks quickly walked back by the White House less than an hour later.
Tsai Ing-wen: Taiwan's President confirms presence of US troops on the island
The leader of Taiwan, the island thrust into the center of rising tensions between the United States and China, said the threat from Beijing is growing "every day," as for the first time she confirmed the presence of American troops on Taiwanese soil. © John Mees/CNN Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen in an interview with CNN on Tuesday in the capital Taipei.
China Will Be Listening
Senior policy analysts say while it's objectively untrue that the U.S. has any legal commitment to defend Taiwan, Biden's comments at least display staunch personal intent, and Beijing will be listening.
"People have different interpretations of what President Biden has said," Taiwan's President Tsai said in her interview—the first to international media in nearly two years since her landslide re-election in January 2020.
Asked whether she had faith in American military assistance in a hypothetical cross-strait conflict, she added: "I do have faith, given the long-term relationship that we have with the U.S., and also the support of the people of the U.S. as well as the."
Tsai said the people of Taiwan are aware of the threats they face. "We have to get ourselves better prepared, but we're not panicked, we're not anxious," she added.
Taiwan would defend itself for "as long as we can," she told CNN. "But let me reiterate, it's important that we have the support of our friends, and also like-minded countries."
China Warns European Union Not to Get Too Friendly With Taiwan as Delegation Visits Island .
Though Taiwan is self-ruled, China claims it as part of its territory and has been increasingly assertive in recent months about establishing its dominance.China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a warning for the EU while voicing opposition to the delegation's visit, saying that it "urges the European side to correct its mistakes and not to send any wrong signals to the separatist forces of Taiwan independence, so as to avoid serious impact on China-EU relations.