TAIPEI – The US is increasing its small contingent of troops in Taiwan to train local forces, an American defence official said, in the latest move of support for the island democracy and willingness to raise the ire of China.
The US military presence in Taiwan would grow to between 100 and 200 troops, up from about 30 a year ago, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier Thursday.
“We don’t have a comment on specific operations, engagements or training, but I would highlight that our support for, and defence relationship with, Taiwan remains aligned against the current threat posed by the People’s Republic of China,” Lieutenant Colonel Marty Meiners, a Pentagon spokesman, said in an e-mail.
Tensions between the US and China have increased since the US identified, and then shot down, what it says was a Chinese spy balloon that crossed the US mainland. China denounced the action against what it says was a wayward weather balloon.
At the same time, President Joe Biden is under pressure from US lawmakers of both parties to bolster US arms and aid to counter a potential future effort by China to seize Taiwan, which China claims.
In a statement on Wednesday, Republican Representative Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, who chairs the House’s new select committee on China, said he came back from a visit to Taiwan “even more convinced that the time to arm Taiwan to the teeth was yesterday”. BLOOMBERG