Several Western media outlets have reported that members of the US Special Forces and Marines have been secretly training Taiwanese troops since 2020.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing unnamed officials, that about two dozen U.S. military personnel have been training Taiwan’s land and sea forces for “at least a year.”
Washington has taken this step despite the risk that it could provoke China.
China has also stepped up its show of strength around Taiwan during US training sessions, Al Jazeera reported.
China sees Taiwan as an isolated province and has threatened to use force if it tries to declare the autonomous island a formal independence.
Two officials familiar with the training of Taiwanese troops told Reuters that some members of the US Special Forces were on a temporary visit to Taiwan.
The two officials, who did not want to be named, declined to say how long the training has been going on; However, they have indicated that the training has been going on since before Joe Biden became US President.
Taiwan’s defense ministry declined to comment on the Wall Street Journal’s (WSJ) report.
“As far as the military is concerned, everything is going according to plan,” he told Reuters.
The Pentagon did not confirm or deny the WSJ report. A spokesman said the United States was providing military assistance to Taiwan, considering its defense needs.
Citing Taiwan’s naval command in November last year, local media reported that US troops had arrived on the island to train members of the Marines and Special Forces.
Officials in the United States and Taiwan dismissed the reports at the time, but the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that the November reports appeared to be true.
A video released last year also shows U.S. troops taking part in an exercise on the autonomous island called “Balance Temper.” The Taiwanese media also broadcast the video.
Pointing to a post on social media about the training of Taiwanese troops to members of the US Special Forces under former US President Donald Trump, Bonnie Glazer, director of Asia program at the Washington-based think tank German Martial Fund, said: “Beijing knows in advance that this training I am not giving. ”
“If this issue (training of Taiwanese troops) is brought to the attention of the people, China will be forced to respond and they are expected to increase pressure on Taiwan,” he said.
Since last year, the Chinese military has been steadily increasing its military presence around Taiwan.
Taiwan said it had detected the presence of a record 57 Chinese aircraft in its air defense zone on Monday alone.
The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), the autonomous island’s top policy-making body on China, has accused Beijing of “undermining the stability and stability of the Taiwan system.”
U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price called China’s recent actions “unstable” and “provocative.”
“We strongly urge Beijing to stop its military, diplomatic and economic pressure and intimidation of Taiwan,” he said.