The president of Taiwan said the country's military and the U.S. National Guard are “proactively planning cooperation.”
President Tsai Ing-wen’s comments Tuesday, made in Taipei alongside Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), who was part of a congressional delegation to the island nation, come as Taiwan faces an ongoing and escalating threat from China.
"As a result, the U.S. Department of Defense is now proactively planning cooperation between the U.S. National Guard and Taiwan's defense forces," Tsai said, according to Reuters. “We look forward to closer and deeper Taiwan-U.S. cooperation on matters of regional security.”
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"I do not have a comment on specific operations, engagements, or training, but I would highlight that our support for and defense relationship with Taiwan remains aligned against the current threat posed by the People’s Republic of China," Lt. Col. Martin Meiners, a Pentagon spokesman, told the Washington Examiner. "Consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act, the United States makes available to Taiwan defense articles and services necessary to enable it to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability commensurate with the PRC’s threat to Taiwan."
A day earlier, Taiwan had reported the largest incursion into its air defense identification zone by China’s Air Force since January. This mission included 22 fighters and utilized electronic warfare and antisubmarine aircraft, the Taiwanese military said, according to Fox News.
Last week, while President Joe Biden was on a trip in Asia, he affirmed that the United States would get involved militarily to defend Taiwan if China invaded when asked by a reporter.
The White House later insisted that the president’s comments were in line with the U.S.’s “One China" policy, whereby the U.S. acknowledges but does not recognize China’s claim that Taiwan is part of China, though the island of 24 million people claims its independence.
“As the president said, our policy has not changed,” the White House said in a statement. “He reiterated our One China Policy and our commitment to peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. He also reiterated our commitment under the Taiwan Relations Act to provide Taiwan with the military means to defend itself.”
The U.S. has also long sought a strategy of “strategic ambiguity,” declining to spell out how Washington would react should China make a move on Taiwan. Biden, when asked, denied that the policy was effectively "dead" following his commitment to defend Taiwan militarily.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin warned that the mainland's relationship with Taiwan is “a purely internal affair for China” in response to Biden's comments.
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“On issues touching on China’s core interests of sovereignty and territorial integrity, China has no room for compromise or concession," he continued. “No one should underestimate the firm resolve, staunch will, and strong ability of the Chinese people in defending national sovereignty and territorial integrity."
Last week, Duckworth, along with a group of bipartisan senators, introduced the Strengthen Taiwan’s Security Act to enhance support for the island nation. The bill would assess opportunities to deliver lethal aid to the island, as well as bolster its intelligence network.