Taiwan president confirms US military presence on island amid China threat
Beijing, Oct 28 (EFE).- Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen has confirmed for the first time that the United States has a military presence on the island, and said the threat from China grows “every day.”
While the information has previously been reported by media, Tsai personally spoke of it for the first time in an exclusive interview with CNN on Tuesday.
“We have a wide range of cooperation with the US aiming at increasing our defense capability,” she said, but added that the numbers of US military personnel in Taiwan were “not as many as people thought.”
At the beginning of the month, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing anonymous sources, that a detachment made up of about two dozen special forces soldiers and an unspecified number of marines had been on the island for at least a year to train Taiwanese land and sea troops.
Last week at a town hall event, US President Joe Biden declared that the US has “a commitment” to defend Taiwan.
In her interview with CNN, Tsai stated that, “given the long-term relationship we have with the US,” she had “faith” that the US would come to the island’s defense should it be attacked by China.
Tsai said that the threat from Beijing is growing “every day,” a statement that comes after a record number of incursions by Chinese aircraft into the Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone early this month. These caused relations between Taipei and Beijing to plunge to their lowest point in four decades, according to the island’s defense minister.
The president also assured of her willingness to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“We have said again and again that we want to have dialogue with China and this is the best way to avoid misunderstanding, miscalculation and misjudgment in the management of the cross-strait relations,” she said.
Also on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken encouraged all United Nations member states to support Taiwan’s “robust, meaningful participation throughout the UN system and in the international community,” and described the island as a “democratic success story” and a “a valued partner and trusted friend.”
Beijing, through foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian on Tuesday, said Blinken’s appeal sends “seriously wrong signals to the ‘Taiwan independence’ forces.”
“China strongly deplores and firmly opposes this, and has made clear its solemn position to and lodged stern representations with the US,” he said.
The US does not maintain formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but maintains unofficial ties with the island, to which it supplies defense resources.
Beijing insists through its one-China principle on “reunification” with the island, which has been governed autonomously since the Kuomintang nationalists retreated to Taiwan in 1949 after losing the civil war against the Communists and ruled over the territory until the early 1990s, when a transition to democracy took place. EFE