Overnight Defense & National Security — China tells US to keep troops out of Taiwan

Overnight Defense & National Security — China tells US to keep troops out of Taiwan
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It's Friday, welcome to Overnight Defense & National Security, your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup.

China is calling on the U.S. to keep troops out of Taiwan, the latest in a week of tension between the two countries over Taipei. We’ll have more on that, along with a lawsuit filed over the Pentagon’s coronavirus vaccine mandate.

For The Hill, I’m Ellen Mitchell. Write to me with tips: emitchell@thehill.com.

Let’s get to it.

China responds to reports of US training Taiwanese forces 

China has called on the U.S. to abide by the status quo and keep troops out of Taiwan after reports the U.S. has been secretly training Taiwanese forces for at least a year. 

“The One China principle is the political foundation of China and U.S. relations,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a press conference in Beijing, Bloomberg reported

“The U.S. must sever diplomatic relations and abrogate its mutual defense treaty with Taiwan and U.S. forces must withdraw from Taiwan,” he added.

The original agreement: During the Carter administration, the U.S. switched formal recognition from the government in Taipei to the government in Beijing. Since then, the United States' relationships with China and Taiwan have been dictated by several diplomatic agreements as well as the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act.

What caused the response: The comments from China come after The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday there have been troops and two dozen special operations members training Taiwan ground forces.

There has also been a detachment of Marines on the democratic island to help with small-boat training. 

Other tensions: The report came as tensions between China and Taiwan have heightened, with U.S. officials saying earlier this year an attack on Taiwan by China could come sooner than thought.

Taiwan has been self-ruled for decades, but China still claims sovereignty over the island.

Read the full story here.

Another lawsuit over Pentagon vaccine mandate

Pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell is suing the Department of Defense, seeking to block the Pentagon from enforcing its COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Powell’s Texas-based group Defending the Republic announced Wednesday that it had filed a lawsuit against Defense Secretary Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Biden backtracks on Taiwan GOP lawmakers worry vaccine mandate will impact defense supply chain Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Navy probe reveals disastrous ship fire response MORE on behalf of 16 active-duty service members “in support of their right to refuse” the coronavirus vaccine.

“Through the filing of this lawsuit, we make clear that these service members — those who serve their country with honor — are not the property of the U.S. government, and the Constitution does not allow them to be treated as such,” the group said on its website.

In an updated version of the complaint filed Wednesday, the plaintiffs argued that the mandate imposes “unconstitutional conditions by forcing Plaintiffs to choose between violation of their constitutional rights or facing life-altering punishments.

The mandate: The Pentagon mandated all service members to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in late August, immediately after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the vaccine manufactured by Pfizer and BioNTech.

The Army is requiring service members to be vaccinated by June 30.

The Navy on Aug. 30 gave active-duty sailors and Marines 90 days to get vaccinated and reservists 120 days.

The Air Force has required active-duty personnel to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 2 and all Air National Guard and reserve members will have to be vaccinated by Dec. 2.

Previous lawsuits: Powell’s lawsuit isn’t the first to challenge the Pentagon’s vaccine mandate. Two service members filed a suit in a Colorado federal court last week attempting to block the agency from requiring all troops to be vaccinated.

Read the full story here.

BIDEN LIFTS SANCTIONS ON TWO IRANIAN MISSILE PRODUCERS

The Biden administration on Friday lifted sanctions on two Iranian entities involved in military missile programs.

The sanctions, targeting the Mammut Industrial Group (Mammut Industries) and its subsidiary Mammut Diesel, were originally imposed by the Trump administration in September 2020 as part of efforts to increase a maximum pressure campaign of sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear activity and actions in the region criticized as malign and destabilizing.

The move comes as the White House seeks to restart indirect talks between Washington and Tehran on rejoining an international nuclear deal. 

The entities were identified as being “key producers and suppliers of military-grade, dual-use goods for Iran’s missile programs.”

They are part of an estimated 1,500 sanctions imposed by the Trump administration since 2018, when then-President TrumpDonald TrumpHillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Twitter's algorithm boosts right-leaning content, internal study finds Ohio Democrat calls Vance an 'ass----' over Baldwin tweet Matt Taibbi says Trump's rhetoric caused public perception of US intelligence services to shift MORE withdrew from the international nuclear accord with Iran, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Read the full story here.

WHAT WE’RE READING

That’s it for today. Check out The Hill’s defense and national security pages for the latest coverage. See you next week.