For well over a year now, the world has been keeping a keen eye China and Taiwan, fearful that the first shots of World War III’s eastern theater will be exchanged between these two nations soon enough.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine appears to have emboldened Beijing, with Chinese military ships conducting repeated “drills” in the seas around Taiwan, menacing the self-governed nation that China claims to be their own.
The US has stepped up to defend Taiwan’s sovereignty in the past, with the Biden administration even going so far as to suggest that there would be military consequences should China choose to invade. This week it was revealed that the American armed services are already operating in the region, and in a much larger capacity than previously known.
The United States has dispatched some 200 military advisers to bases around Taiwan to assist with ongoing reforms to the island’s armed forces, Taiwan’s semi-official Central News Agency said on Monday.
The instructors were assigned to support training at boot camps and reserve units, CNA said, ahead of a planned extension of Taiwan’s mandatory military service from four to 12 months beginning in 2024. President Tsai Ing-wen announced the policy change late last year as Taipei took meaningful steps to gird itself for Beijing’s military ambitions in the coming decade.
This has been an ongoing partnership, but the revelation regarding the group’s size was notable.
Tsai, whose second term in office ends next May, acknowledged the presence of U.S. military advisers in Taiwan for the first time in October 2021, but said their numbers weren’t “as many as people thought.” Chiu Kuo-cheng, her defense minister, said shortly after that U.S.-Taiwan military exchanges didn’t mean American troops were now “stationed in Taiwan.”
Taiwan’s army soldiers account for more than half of the island’s active service members. The service branch on Tuesday declined to comment on the CNA report, but said “exchanges with foreign militaries are conducted in accordance with planning.”
Sun Li-fang, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry spokesperson, told a media briefing the same day that it “welcomes allied military training to enhance the nation’s armed forces,” without elaborating.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s recent visit with Taiwanese dignitaries has sparked further outrage from Beijing, and was likely one of the reasons for China’s latest military maneuvering.
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