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US special forces quietly training Taiwanese: Pentagon official

By AFP

TAIWAN: US special operations forces have been quietly training Taiwanese troops for months, risking China’s anger, a Pentagon official said Thursday, October 7, 2021.

A contingent of about 20 special operations and conventional forces has been conducting the training for less than a year, the officer, who declined to be identified, told AFP, with some trainers moving in and out.

The official largely confirmed the Wall Street Journal report, which said the training has been going on for at least a year amid increasing verbal threats from China against the island ally of the United States.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry declined to comment on the report, but Pentagon spokesman John Supple said that generally, US support for Taiwan’s military is judged on its defense needs.

“Our support and defense relationship with Taiwan stands against the current threat posed by the People’s Republic of China,” Supple said in a statement.

“We urge Beijing to honor its commitment to the peaceful resolution of cross-strait differences.”

When asked to comment on the Wall Street Journal report on Friday, Taiwanese Premier Su Tseng-chang said “a just cause always attracts a lot of support”.

He said, “We are making every effort to protect our national sovereignty and our people, as well as to maintain regional peace. We are doing everything we can and we are working together with like-minded countries.” Appreciate the work.”

Taiwanese media reported last November, citing Taiwan’s naval command, that US troops had arrived there to train Taiwanese navy and special forces in small boat and amphibious operations.

But those reports were later denied by US and Taiwanese officials, who insisted that the two sides were only involved in bilateral military exchanges and cooperation.

The United States supplies Taiwan with weapons, including missiles for defense and fighter jets, amid threats by Beijing to forcibly take control of the island and reunite it with China.

The US also maintains a vague commitment to the defense of Taiwan, which Beijing considers a renegade province.

A video released last year and in Taiwanese media showed US troops participating in an exercise on the island called “Balance Tamper”.

The Chinese military has intensified its activities towards Taiwan over the past year, conducting maritime strike exercises and flying a large number of bombers and fighters close to Taiwan airspace.

Taiwan’s defense minister said on Wednesday that military tensions between the island and China are at their highest level in four decades, after nearly 150 Chinese warplanes – a record number – infiltrated its air defenses in recent days.

He warned that even “the slightest carelessness” or “miscalculation” could lead to a crisis, and that Beijing would be in a position to launch a full-scale offensive in four years.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price called Chinese activity “destabilizing” and “provocative”.

“We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic and economic pressure and coercion against Taiwan,” he said, calling the US commitment to the island “rock-solid.”

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan was asked whether Washington was prepared to take military action to defend Taiwan, he told the BBC: “All I will say is, we will take action to prevent that day from ever coming.” are going to do.”

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