The Wall Street Journal set off explosions yesterday with a report claiming that about two dozen U.S. military trainers, consisting of special operators and Marines, have been in Taiwan working with the Taiwanese military for at least a year. “The U.S. special-operations deployment is a sign of concern within the Pentagon over Taiwan’s tactical capabilities in light of Beijing’s years-long military buildup and recent threatening moves against the island,” the Journal claimed. “The special-operations unit and the Marine contingent are a small but symbolic effort by the U.S. to increase Taipei’s confidence in building its defenses against potential Chinese aggression.”
In Taipei, officials were reported by Radio Taiwan International to be “coy” about the Journal report. Responding to questions about the report, Premier Su Tseng-chang thanked countries that share Taiwan’s values for their support. He says the government is doing all it can to defend its sovereignty and its people, and to maintain peace in the region. Meanwhile, Vice Defense Minister Po Hung-hui says that Taiwan’s military welcomes opportunities for international cooperation. However, Po declined to comment directly on the report of a U.S. military presence.
In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said “the U.S. should ... stop arms sales to and military ties with Taiwan to avoid seriously damaging China-U.S. relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. China will take all necessary measures to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
“Why just two dozen members? Why secretly? The U.S. should send 240 servicemen publicly, in U.S. military uniform, and make public where they are stationed,” Hu Xijin, the editor in chief of China’s English-language Global Times, tweeted in response to the Journal article, concluding, “See whether the PLA will launch a targeted air strike to eliminate those U.S. invaders!”