The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that US special operations forces and marines have been secretly training Taiwanese troops for more than a year, fueling China’s anger.
About two dozen US service members have trained Taiwan’s land and sea forces “for at least a year” amid China’s increasing verbal threats against the United States’ island ally, the Journal said.
The report cited unidentified officials for the report. Taiwan’s Defense Ministry declined to comment on the report.
The Pentagon did not confirm or deny this. Spokesman John Supple said US support for Taiwan’s military depends on its defense needs.
“Our support and defense relationship with Taiwan stands against the current threat posed by the People’s Republic of China,” Supple said in a statement.
“We urge Beijing to honor its commitment to the peaceful resolution of cross-strait differences.”
The report appeared to confirm Taiwanese media articles last November – which cited Taiwan’s naval command – that US troops had arrived to train Taiwanese navy and special forces in small boat and amphibious operations.
Those reports were later denied by US and Taiwanese officials, who emphasized that the two sides are engaged in bilateral military exchanges and cooperation.
The United States supplies Taiwan with weapons, including missiles for defense and fighter jets, amid threats by Beijing to forcibly take control of the island and reunite it with China.
The US also maintains a vague commitment to the defense of Taiwan, which Beijing considers a renegade province.
A video released last year and in Taiwanese media showed US troops participating in an exercise on the island called “Balance Tamper”.
In the past year, the Chinese military has intensified its movements towards Taiwan, practicing maritime strikes and flying a large number of bombers and fighters near Taiwan’s airspace.
On Monday, Taiwan drove its own air force after a record 56 Chinese warplanes crossed its air defenses.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price called Chinese activity “destabilizing” and “provocative”.
“We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic and economic pressure and coercion against Taiwan,” he said, calling the US commitment to the island “rock-solid.”
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)