Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen confirmed to The Washington Post that American military trainers were operating on the island. Washington stations its military trainers on one of the smaller of its two commitments to the One China policy, and U.S. military trainers will help Taiwan bolster its own defense against China’s military build-up.
The move comes amid growing political friction between Taiwan and China, which is moving to dramatically ramp up its armed forces in the South China Sea and as tensions grow between Beijing and U.S. allies in the region. Chinese President Xi Jinping has consistently insisted that he will never accept any break in the One China policy and that China’s sovereignty over Taiwan is a fact of life. At the same time, Beijing is pushing for the next year to be dedicated to promoting reunification through military might.
Taiwan can neither make a full-fledged military response nor withdraw from China’s territory as long as there is a still aOne China policy. And with Taiwan’s military formally grounded under the One China policy, Taiwanese officials had been coy about whether it had any plans to produce a sufficient military force.
Now, according to a dispatch from Taipei, Taiwan’s government has made an “unprecedented, explicit” announcement that military trainers are on the island.
NIC KOURI: After a period of silence about this, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen confirmed on Friday in an interview with The Washington Post that the U.S. military is training her country’s armed forces for potential counter-attacks against China.
For years, Taiwan and its international supporters have been skeptical about the presence of military trainers on the island. The Tainan government typically indicates that the military trainers, installed on about a third of the island’s territory, would serve as base for presidential advisors but have not made public statements about their presence. Some experts had speculated that the military trainers would travel to Taiwan after they retired from active service or were moved to other duties, but reports from the territory have not indicated any such preparations.
Taiwan’s president also said that her government is fully prepared to defend Taiwan from Chinese aggression and said she would increase the number of Taiwan-based U.S. military trainers to 40 from the current number of nine.
During her interview with The Washington Post, Tsai was also asked about the United States spending money on weapons for Taiwan, which is not under the One China policy. Tsai responded that the United States is constantly in Taiwan’s interest and that Taiwan’s cooperation with the United States is “one-to-one.”
Granit Xanthogiannis is a writer for The Washington Post and has previously served as a staff writer for Foreign Policy and The New York Times.
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