China warns US amid reports Marines are stationed in Taiwan

China has reiterated calls for the United States to cut off military ties with Taiwan in a cautious response to reports that US Marines have been stationed on the self-ruled island for more than a year to strengthen its defences against intensifying Chinese aggression.

sked about the reports, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian avoided attacks on Washington and said that the US should recognise the “high sensitivity” of the issue and halt military contact with Taiwan.

“China will take all necessary measures to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Mr Zhao said.

China claims the island of 24 million people as part of its sovereign territory, threatening to take control by force if Taiwan’s government formally declares independence. But democratic Taiwan considers itself a country and has shown no interest in submitting to Chinese rule.

About two dozen US troops, including a special-operations unit and a contingent of Marines, have been in Taiwan to train military forces for more than a year, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing unnamed US officials.

Taiwan’s foreign and defence ministries declined to comment on the report, which was a rare confirmation from US officials of the nature of training programmes in Taiwan. The Pentagon last year denied Marine special operatives were training in Taiwan after the island’s military tacitly acknowledged the change to regular exchanges.

In a speech yesterday, Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, did not address the matter but noted that developments in the Indo-Pacific were creating new tensions that “could have a devastating effect on international security and the global economy if they are not handled carefully”.

The revelation threatens to undermine the tentative start of a detente in the years-long diplomatic feud between Washington and Beijing.

Response on Chinese social media was muted yesterday, suggesting censors were tamping down discussion.

On Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, Hu Xijin, editor in chief of Chinese state-backed Global Times, a stridently nationalist tabloid, taunted Washington for only sending 24 soldiers without fanfare, instead of openly setting up a base. “Roll the dice,” he jeered. “See whose willpower is ultimately stronger when it comes to the Taiwan issue.” (© Washington Post)

© Washington Post

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