In a recent interview on CNN, Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen revealed that there were a small number of United States military personnel located on the island nation, the first Taiwanese president to expose this information to the world and to China in specific.
Here are some excerpts from the interview as broadcast on Formosa TV English News:
Here is additional coverage of the interview:
Interestingly, back in June 2020, the U.S. Army's 1st Special Forces Group posted a short motivational video entitled "Excellence" which shows Special Forces personnel training with their Taiwanese counterparts on its official Facebook page as shown here:
While the number of American military personnel is very small in the grand scheme of the U.S. military personnel deployed around the world, it is the message being sent to China and its leadership that is of concern. All United States military personnel were removed from Taiwan in 1979 under the agreement wherein Washington recognized Beijing and the Chinese Communist Party as the only government of China, leaving the American relationship with Taiwan to fall under the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) under which the U.S. government engages with and provides for Taiwan's defense as shown here:
"Taiwan Relations Act – Declares it to be the policy of the United States to preserve and promote extensive, close, and friendly commercial, cultural, and other relations between the people of the United States and the people on Taiwan, as well as the people on the China mainland and all other people of the Western Pacific area. Declares that peace and stability in the area are in the political, security, and economic interests of the United States, and are matters of international concern. States that the United States decision to establish diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China rests upon the expectation that the future of Taiwan will be determined by peaceful means and that any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means, including by boycotts or embargoes is considered a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and of grave concern to the United States. States that the United States shall provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character and shall maintain the capacity of the United States to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or social or economic system, of the people of Taiwan.
Reaffirms as a commitment of the United States the preservation of human rights of the people of Taiwan.
Declares that in furtherance of the principle of maintaining peace and stability in the Western Pacific area, the United States shall 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 capacity as determined by the President and the Congress. Requires such determination of Taiwan's defense needs to be reviewed by United States military authorities in connection with recommendations to the President and the Congress.
Directs the President to inform the Congress promptly of threats to the security or the social or economic system of the people on Taiwan, and any danger to the United States interests arising from such threats. Specifies that the President and the Congress shall determine the appropriate action in response to any such danger."
Not surprisingly, under the terms of the TRA, Washington continues to sell significant advanced military materiel to Taiwan as shown here:
…and here, among others:
Obviously, these moves by Washington have not gone unnoticed. Here is a recent article on China's relationship with Taiwan from the China Daily, an English language news service owned by the Chinese Communist Party:
In the Global Times, another media service with links to the Chinese Communist Party and its People's Daily newspaper, we find this fascinating op-ed from April 2021:
Here are some quotes with all bolds being mine:
"It would seem to some that a US war with China over the island of Taiwan appears imminent.
Considering the congestion of hostile forces in, above, and below the Taiwan Straits and South China Sea, conflict could explode by accident or design. Once blood is drawn, the US will have few options. If the US elects to fight China over the island of Taiwan, then it will lose…
The US Congress' interests in Taiwan are deeply conflicted, better said corrupt. The reciprocal relationship between defense lobbyists, industry contributions, and a Caucus Member's reelectability is well documented. The bipartisan support for increasing arms sales to Taiwan and even larger defense expenditures on the US Indo-Pacific Command are logical and transparent as all parties profit from the tension and war.
Many Americans assume China's citizenry longs for a liberal democracy like that on the island of Taiwan, and that war will trigger popular revolt. But the Taiwan question is not an ideological dispute. Rather it is a raw and painful open wound in China's civilizational identity. Today, US othering of Chinese only fuels a fierce nationalism in its 1.4 billion citizens. China has a traditional self-narrative wherein the preservation of face and enforcement of sovereignty are inseparable.
All the while the balance of power has shifted fundamentally. The US would be wise to regard China as a peer superpower, if only due to her casualty-tolerance – China's decisive advantage in any fight with the US. China also shares a binding mutual defense treaty with North Korea, and the depths of its friendship and security bonds with Russia should never be underestimated….
The US has never paid an existential price for violating another nation's sovereignty, leading to our smug sense of military invincibility. However, with Taiwan being a core Chinese priority, that would be a fatal miscalculation. Still, the US counts on regional allies to share the pain. Yet some will have blood debts to pay if they engage in China's civil war…The US allies will definitely think twice before militarily intervening in China's unresolved civil war and internal affairs.
In the end, the prosperous Taiwan people will make every effort to wag the American dog. But Taiwan's fate poses no existential threat to the US, and the US should not fall into the trap of paying for their hubris with American blood. However, in view of the violent political polarization of the US at home, an ill-advised foreign war with no path to victory would only serve to accelerate America's decline."
Through two of its English-language media outlets, China's leadership has made it very clear that any actions that Washington takes in defense of Taiwan will be viewed as an act of war by the Chinese Communist Party. The Taiwanese President's admission that U.S. troops are on Taiwanese soil is nothing more than "poking the dragon with a stick". Washington's ruling class with its Cold War mentality still believes that it can win a conflict anywhere in the world, however, China's massive and technically advanced military, its close links to both North Korea and Russia and its geographic proximity to any conflict in the East and South China Seas give it a significant advantage and may surprise the United States with its determination to protect the territory that it believes is part of the Chinese homeland.
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