As fears mount that China may attempt to invade and re-take Taiwan, the United States is more than quadrupling the number of troops stationed in Taiwan to provide training and support for the island’s military.
Over the next few months, U.S. officials will deploy between 100 and 200 troops, an increase from 30 just a year ago, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported. Soldiers will expand a secretive training program aimed at capabilities Taiwan would need to defend itself in the event of an attack from China, including weapons systems and military maneuvers.
“One of the difficult things to determine is what really is objectionable to China,” an unnamed U.S. official said about the training. “We don’t think at the levels that we’re engaged in and are likely to remain engaged in the near future that we are anywhere close to a tipping point for China, but that’s a question that is constantly being evaluated and looked at specifically with every decision involving support to Taiwan.”
Requests for comment on the troop surge were declined by a spokesman at the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, the White House, and the Pentagon.
“We don’t have a comment on specific operations, engagements, or training, but I would highlight that our support for, and defense relationship with, Taiwan remains aligned against the current threat posed by the People’s Republic of China,” Army Lt. Col. Marty Meiners, a Pentagon spokesman told WSJ. “Our commitment to Taiwan is rock-solid and contributes to the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and within the region.”
The ramp-up of the training program has been in the works for months, but now comes against the backdrop of heightened tensions over China deploying a spy balloon that flew across the continental U.S.
It also comes as China’s top diplomat recently met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a bid to expand their strategic cooperation, prompting the U.S. State Department to warn of “consequences” if China provides military aid to Russia in its fight against Ukraine.