TAIPEI (Reuters) – President Tsai Ing-wen said in an interview with CNN that a small number of U.S. troops are in Taiwan to train with Taiwanese soldiers, and confirmed the presence of U.S. forces on the self-governing island being studied by China. Queen.
Tensions in relations between Taiwan and China, which have not ruled out a violent takeover of the island, have risen in recent weeks as military and political pressures on Beijing have mounted.
“We have a wide range of partnerships with the United States with the goal of increasing our defense capabilities,” Tsai told CNN in the interview that aired Thursday.
When asked about the number of US military personnel deployed in Taiwan, she only said it was “not as much as people think”.
This confirmation comes at a time when China is ramping up military pressure on Taiwan, including the repeated missions of Chinese warplanes in the Taiwan Air Defense Identification Zone.
“Taiwan independence is a dead end and there will be no turning back for those who support it,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said when asked about Tsai’s remarks.
“The United States should adhere to the one-China principle… Nothing you see is unilateral,” he said, adding that the United States should end military and official ties with Taiwan.
While several Taiwanese and international media, including Reuters, earlier reported these exercises with US forces, the official confirmation could deteriorate US-China relations as Beijing conducts military exercises near Taiwan.
Asked about Tsai’s comment, Taiwan Defense Minister Chiu Kuching told reporters that the military interactions between Taiwan and the United States are “many and very frequent” and have been going on for a long time.
“During these exchanges, any topic can be discussed,” he said, adding that Tsai did not say that US forces are permanently stationed or reinforced in Taiwan, responding to lawmakers’ questions that if so, it might be China’s pretext to attack. The island.
“There is no connection between personnel exchange and troop stationing,” Chiu said.
The United States withdrew its forces permanently stationed in Taiwan when it severed diplomatic relations with Taipei in favor of Beijing in 1979.
The United States, like most countries, does not have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but it is a major international ally and a major supplier of arms. Taiwan sends its F-16 pilots to train at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.
Tsai said Taiwan is an independent country and has repeatedly pledged to defend its democracy and freedom.
(Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard and Limo Lee) Additional reporting by Gabriel Crossley. Editing by William Mallard and Mike Harrison
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