Taiwan president confirms presence of US troops

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Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen confirmed the presence of U.S. troops on the island during an interview with CNN published on Thursday.

Tsai was asked if U.S. military support included sending service members to help train Taiwanese troops, as The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month, drawing objections from China.

“Well, yes, we have a wide range of cooperation with the U.S. aiming at increasing our defense capability,” she answered.

“How many U.S. service members are deployed in Taiwan right now?” CNN’s Will Ripley asked her.

“Not as many as people thought,” she said.

Tsai added that she has faith that the United States would assist Taiwan if China tried to assert itself against the island, which Beijing considers part of its sovereign territory. 

“I do have faith and given the long term relationship that we have [with] the U.S. and also the support [of] the people of the U.S. as well as the Congress, and the administration has been very helpful,” she said.

Taiwan’s defense minister also said on Thursday that it could not rely on other countries to protect it.

“The country must rely on itself, and if any friends or other groups can help us, then it’s like I said before, we’re happy to have it, but we cannot completely depend on it,” Chiu Kuo-cheng said Thursday, according to The Associated Press.

“I would like to highlight that our support for and defense relationship with Taiwan remains aligned against the current threat posed by the People’s Republic of China and is in line with our commitments under the Taiwan Relations Act and our One China policy,” Pentagon spokesperson John Supple told The Hill in a statement, adding that he had no comment on specific training, operations or engagements.

The U.S. has operated under a policy of “strategic ambiguity” with Taiwan. The 1979 Taiwan Relations Act allows for Washington to “make available to Taiwan such defense articles and defense services in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability.”

While the legislation does not officially recognize the island nation, it does allow for unofficial relations between the U.S. and Taiwan to be established.

Earlier this month, President Biden seemed to suggest that his administration’s policy toward Taiwan changed, affirming during a CNN town hall that the U.S. would defend the island in the event of an attack by China.

But that position was quickly clarified by White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who said, “He wasn’t announcing a change in policy nor have we changed our policy.”

“We are guided by the Taiwan Relations Act,” she said.

Updated at 12:36 p.m.

Tags China China–United States relations Cross-Strait relations Foreign relations of Taiwan Jen Psaki Joe Biden Taiwan Taiwan Relations Act Taiwan–United States relations Tsai Ing-Wen

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