President Tsai Ing-wen recently confirmed the presence of US troops in Taiwan for the first time during an interview with CNN. She also said she was confident the US would come to Taiwan's defense if China attacks. National Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng gave more details on Oct. 28, saying the US troops are in Taiwan to help with training and the US does not have a base here.
Tensions remain high across the Taiwan Strait. During a recent interview with CNN, President Tsai Ing-wen confirmed the presence of US troops in Taiwan for the first time, saying they are here to assist with training. She also said she was confident the US would come to Taiwan's defense if China attacks. On Oct. 28, Kuomintang Legislator Johnny Chiang asked the Ministry of National Defense, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Mainland Affairs Council to define the presence of US troops in Taiwan and whether this constitutes a condition for China to attack Taiwan. National Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said the US military does not have a long-term presence in Taiwan.
Johnny Chiang, Legislator (KMT): “This is a huge issue. The three of you are senior officials and you can't claim that you don't know or that you're not sure about this statement uttered by the president. Is there an entire unit right now?”
Chiu Kuo-cheng, Nat'l Defense Minister: “She was referring to a deployment. However, generally speaking, if there is an entire unit deployed along with personnel… As of right now, (shakes head).”
Chiu Chui-cheng, Dep. Mainland Affairs Minister: “The overall assessment is that the current situation across the Taiwan Strait has not escalated.”
The national defense minister said it won't be easy to see peace in the short term. The Mainland Affairs Council said the situation hasn't escalated. An American think tank reported that if China seizes Dongsha, the US will have limited ways to respond. Chinese think tank South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative posted on Twitter that in a rare move, a US Navy survey ship conducted a quick survey near Pratas Island on Oct. 25 and 26. Legislators were worried that China could take Dongsha without needing a single soldier.
Wang Ting-yu, Legislator (DPP): “Do you think it's possible for China to achieve this without firing a single shot or needing a single soldier?”
Chiu Kuo-cheng, Nat'l Defense Minister: “This is the expectation of every country before attacking. However, I would like to inform the committee members that the national defense minister won't let this happen.”
A US think tank has advised Taiwan's military to adopt the "poison frog strategy," which consists of allowing China to take Dongsha so that it will feel the painful military and political ramifications. Chiu said Taiwan will continue to strengthen its military capabilities. A recent report by the Wall Street Journal talked about how Taiwan's conscripts spend their days cleaning and mowing grass. Chiu denied this, saying over 90 percent of the military are enlistees and have served at least four years. Compared to the past, there have only been improvements.