The situation in the Taiwan Strait continues to be tense, and news about military exchanges between the United States and Taiwan has recently attracted attention again. Since this week, news about whether US special operations forces are in Taiwan to assist in the training of the Taiwanese army began to spread.
On Thursday (October 7) Reuters quoted two U.S. sources who requested anonymity as saying that a small number of members of the U.S. special operations forces have been “temporarily rotating Taiwan to train Taiwan forces.”
The Wall Street Journal again quoted an unnamed US official later that day and reported details of the training. The report specifically emphasized that the reason for this deployment was Beijing’s military buildup over the years and recent threats against Taiwan. The US Department of Defense is concerned about Taiwan’s tactical capabilities.
However, a Taiwanese person familiar with the situation, who did not want to be named, told BBC Taipei correspondent Cindy Sui that the US-Taiwan military cooperation training was not intended to deal with the recent tensions in the Taiwan Strait. The source said that this is a regular training, not a temporary military plan. “We built it in a foreign arms sales program and paid a service price. Washington won’t give away anything for free, they even tax your purchases.”
“I don’t understand why US officials exposed the news to the media at this moment. Maybe they are testing the water temperature to see if Taiwan public opinion will support the expansion of this training program.” The person familiar with the matter said.
Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense stated on Friday (October 8) that “all military exchanges between the national army are carried out in accordance with the annual plan, and no comment will be made on the content of the report.”
China’s official tabloid “Global Times” reported that, as reported by the US media, this will once again expose the ugliness of the United States and the wanton destruction of peace in the Taiwan Strait by the Taiwan authorities.
The U.S. military is in Taiwan but secretly?
“The Wall Street Journal” reported that US officials revealed that about 20 members of the US special operations forces and supporting forces are training for the Taiwan Army squad and the Marine Corps, and have conducted military training for at least one year.
According to the report, in October 2020, a group of US Marines came to Taiwan to teach the Marine Corps and Amphibious Special Service Squadron courses on assault boats and speedboat infiltration operations at the Zuoying Military District in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan for a month, and this military security cooperation There are precedents. In fact, since the latter period of the Trump administration, the Pentagon has continued to station “small-scale active military instructors” in Taiwan, including dozens of active special forces instructors, as well as the US Marine Corps specifically targeting the country. For the cooperative training of military ship attack, the main cooperative projects are special operations and amphibious missions.
According to the analysis of the Taiwanese media joint news network “Jian Jiao International”, the so-called “US military instructor group stationed in Taiwan” has actually been circulated in the defense industry for many years. It is the so-called “secret and unannounced” rather than “accidental exposure.” It’s just that in the past, the US military advisory group and instructors often visited Taiwan as “vacation instructors and civilians,” and seldom came to Taiwan as “active soldiers.”
The above-mentioned people familiar with the situation in Taiwan also confirmed to the BBC that this kind of military training did not happen this year or last year, but has always existed, but no one talked about it.
In fact, the news about the US military presence in Taiwan was indeed discussed in Taiwanese public opinion last year.
In June 2020, the U.S. Special Forces posted a combat training video on their Facebook social accounts. The sharp-eyed media found a rare picture of “U.S. and Taiwan special forces training together in Taiwan.”
At that time, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense rarely confirmed to the media that the footage was a film of military cooperation training between the two sides, and stated that “all were normal military exchanges.” Taiwanese strategist Su Ziyun also commented to the media that “Military training is the core of Taiwan-US military cooperation. The US military’s announcement of relevant images will not only be used for public military diplomacy, but also send strategic signals to the Chinese Communist Party. Don’t misjudge the situation and risk taking military action. action.”
In November 2020, Taiwan reported that Taiwan Naval Command “recognized” that US naval commandos are training Taiwan Marines for assault boats and speedboat infiltration operations in Taiwan. This will be the first public recognition since 1979. Training activities conducted by the United States in Taiwan with the Marine Corps.
Nearly a year later, relevant news spread again, and the issue of whether the US military is stationed in Taiwan has once again aroused great concern.
After the news came to light, John Supple, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Defense, said rarely: “China has stepped up its efforts to intimidate and pressure Taiwan and other allies and partners, including in Taiwan, the East China Sea, and the East China Sea. There is an increase in military activities near the South China Sea. We believe these activities destabilize and increase the risk of misjudgment.”
PLA military aircraft “disturbs Taiwan”
In response to this, John Supple, a spokesperson for the US Department of Defense, said, “I have no comments on specific operations, operations, or training. But what I want to emphasize is our support for Taiwan and our defense with Taiwan. The relationship is consistent with the current threat posed by China.”
So far, Beijing has not responded.
However, in response to the 150 PLA military aircraft entering the Southwestern Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) of Taiwan starting last weekend, the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council of the Mainland China has reiterated that the “One China” principle is unbreakable and warned the “Taiwan independence forces” such as the Democratic Progressive Party of Taiwan. Don’t act rashly.
On the eve of Taiwan’s celebration of the 110th National Day of the Republic of China, Taiwan’s diplomatic and military activities in related regions have become more frequent. In addition to 150 PLA military aircraft entering Taiwan’s Southwest Air Defense Identification Zone for several days, which Taiwan calls “disturbance”, Taiwan is also stepping up its voice in the US-led Indo-Pacific strategy.
President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan reiterated the importance of establishing a new Indo-Pacific strategic partnership between Taiwan and Australia when he met with former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott who came to Taiwan to give a speech this week, and hoped that Australia would assist Taiwan in joining the CPTPP.
Tsai Ing-wen stressed that Taiwan does not seek military conflict, but will defend itself when necessary.