China’s Foreign Ministry urged the United States to stop military aid to Taiwan after a media report said US special operations forces have been quietly training Taiwanese troops for months.
A contingent of around 20 special operations and conventional forces has been conducting the training for less than a year, the official, who declined to be identified, told AFP, adding that some of the trainers rotate in and out.
The official largely confirmed a Wall Street Journal report which said the training has been going on for at least a year.
China’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement urging the US to stop military aid to Taiwan, according to the Guardian.
“China will take all necessary steps to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the statement said.
China’s state media outlet, the Global Times said on Friday that China’s state council “strongly opposed any form of military collusion between Taiwan and the United States”.
“We urge the US to abide Three Communiqués on the Taiwan issue and stop any provocations. The DPP authorities work with external forces to seek “independence” and reject reunification. This has led the people of Taiwan to disaster, and their attempts are bound to fail.”
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen said on Friday that Taiwan will “do whatever it takes to defend its freedom and democratic way of life”.
“Taiwan does not seek military confrontation,” she told a security forum in Taipei. “It hopes for a peaceful, stable, predictable and mutually beneficial coexistence with its neighbours. But Taiwan will also do whatever it takes to defend its freedom and democratic way of life.”
Taiwan's Defence Ministry declined to comment on the report, but Pentagon spokesman John Supple said that generally speaking, US support for Taiwan's military is gauged on its defence needs, according to AFP.
Taiwan media reported last November, citing Taiwan's Naval Command, that US troops had arrived there to train Taiwan marines and special forces in small-boat and amphibious operations.
But those reports were subsequently denied by US and Taiwanese officials, who emphasised the two sides are only involved in bilateral military exchanges and cooperation.
The United States supplies weapons to Taiwan, including missiles for defence and fighter jets.
The US also maintains an ambiguous commitment to defend Taiwan, which Beijing considers a renegade province.
A video released last year and featured in Taiwan media showed US troops taking part in an exercise on the island dubbed "Balance Tamper".