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The United States reportedly plans to significantly boost its military presence in Taiwan as tensions with China grow.
Officials told The Wall Street Journal and Fox News the U.S. is preparing to send between 100 and 200 troops to Taiwan in the coming months, which would be the largest such deployment in decades and a marked increase from the approximately 30 troops stationed there last year.
These added troops will reportedly train Taiwanese forces on using U.S. weapons systems and military maneuvers.
“We don’t have a comment on specific operations, engagements, or training, but I would highlight that our support for, and defense relationship with, Taiwan remains aligned against the current threat posed by the People’s Republic of China,” Defense Department spokesman Army Lt. Col. Marty Meiners said in a statement shared with The Daily Wire.
“Our commitment to Taiwan is rock-solid and contributes to the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and within the region,” Meiners continued.
Taiwan is a self-governed island nation that the Chinese Communist Party has sought to bring under its control. The United States provides defense support to Taiwan but does not formally recognize it as a country.
In October, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for a “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan, but stressed China “will never promise to renounce the use of force and we reserve the option of taking all measures necessary.” Amid increasing provocations by China, President Tsai Ing-wen announced in December that Taiwan would increase its mandatory military service requirement for eligible men from four months to a year.
U.S. military and intelligence officials have said Xi is gearing up his country’s forces to invade Taiwan as early as 2027. Some warned an attack could come sooner.
“It’s not just what President Xi says, it’s how the Chinese behave and what they do. And what we’ve seen over the past 20 years is that they have delivered on every promise they’ve made earlier than they said they were going to deliver on it,” said U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Gilday in October. “So when we talk about the 2027 window, in my mind, that has to be a 2022 window or potentially a 2023 window. I can’t rule that out. I don’t mean at all to be alarmist by saying that. It’s just that we can’t wish that away.”
News of the impending deployment to Taiwan comes after the U.S. Air Force shot down what it determined to be a Chinese spy balloon after it flew across a wide swath of the United States.
Beijing claims the balloon was essentially a civilian weather balloon blown off course and accused the U.S. of overreacting with the shoot-down. In retaliation, the U.S. blacklisted six Chinese entities tied to Beijing’s military aerospace programs, after which China levied sanctions on two major U.S. defense contractors.
During an address last Thursday, President Joe Biden said he makes “no apologies” for shooting it down but insisted the U.S. is not seeking a “new Cold War” with China.