Chinese media threatens war with US over Taiwan troops typo

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TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A Twitter typo posted by a senator mistakenly suggesting the presence of a large number of U.S. troops in Taiwan on Tuesday (Aug. 17) prompted the head of one of China’s official mouthpieces to threaten war to “eliminate and expel” American soldiers.

On Tuesday, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) mistakenly listed the U.S. as having 30,000 troops stationed in Taiwan, which has not seen a major American military presence in over 40 years. After immense criticism, Cornyn deleted the tweet.

However, prior to being taken down, it had been visible throughout the day in East Asia. Hu Xijin (胡錫進), the editor-in-chief of Chinese state-run tabloid the Global Times, took notice and retweeted Cornyn’s post.

Apparently uncertain of the authenticity of troop numbers, Hu wrote that the U.S. and Taiwan must provide an explanation for the undisclosed force. Hu threatened that if this or an even lower number is accurate, “Chinese military forces will immediately launch a war to eliminate and expel the US soldiers.”

Hu’s newspaper then penned an editorial titled “If there are US troops present on Taiwan island, China will crush them by force” in which it claimed that the presence of American soldiers would justify activating China’s Anti-Secession Law to “destroy and expel” them. The article stated that this would be an opportunity to realize “reunification by force.”

The paper said that such an American military presence violates agreements signed between China and the U.S. and “runs counter to international law and even U.S. domestic law.” It claimed that such a large troop contingent is the equivalent of a military invasion and that it’s an “act of declaring war on the People’s Republic of China.”

The editorial conceded that the tweet may have been a mistake but demanded an explanation from the U.S. government and Taiwan’s authorities. It stressed that the presence of U.S. soldiers in Taiwan is “a red-line that cannot be crossed,” and that Washington should withdraw from the island “immediately and unconditionally.”

On Wednesday (Aug. 18), Hu observed that Cornyn had deleted his controversial tweet and wrote that some claimed the senator had mistakenly cited troop numbers from the 1970s, before China and the U.S. had established diplomatic ties. However, Hu then implied that Cornyn’s tweet had been meant to “test our response,” and he closed by declaring: “My answer to him is war.”

In fact, there 30 active members of the U.S. military currently in Taiwan, as well as 15 civilian contractors, according to the U.S. Defense Department. This includes two from the U.S. Navy, 23 from the Marine Corps, and five from the Air Force.

China holds assault drills near Taiwan after ‘provocations’

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Chinese and Taiwanese national flags are displayed alongside military airplanes in this illustration taken April 9, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

Summary China says military drilled near southern Taiwan

Drills said to be a response to ’external interference'

Taiwan says 11 Chinese aircraft entered its air defence zone

China claims Taiwan as sovereign Chinese territory

BEIJING/TAIPEI, Aug 17 (Reuters) - China carried out assault drills near Taiwan on Tuesday, with warships and fighter jets exercising off the southwest and southeast of the island in what the country’s armed forces said was a response to “external interference” and “provocations”.

Taiwan, which Beijing claims as Chinese territory, has complained of repeated People’s Liberation Army (PLA) drills in its vicinity in the past two years or so, part of a pressure campaign to force the island to accept China’s sovereignty.

In a brief statement, the PLA’s Eastern Theatre Command said warships, anti-submarine aircraft and fighter jets had been dispatched close to Taiwan to carry out “joint fire assault and other drills using actual troops”.

It did not give details.

A senior official familiar with Taiwan’s security planning told Reuters that China’s air force had carried out a “capturing air supremacy” drill, using their advanced J-16 fighters.

“In addition to seeking air supremacy over Taiwan, they have also been conducting frequent electronic reconnaissance and electronic interference operations,” the person said.

Taiwan believes China is trying to gather electronic signals from U.S. and Japanese aircraft so that they can “paralyse reinforcing aircraft including F-35s in a war”, the source said, referring to the U.S.-operated stealth fighter.

Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said 11 Chinese aircraft entered its air defence zone, including two nuclear-capable H-6K bombers and six J-16 fighters, and that it had scrambled jets to warn China’s planes away.

While the Chinese statement gave no exact location for the drills, Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said the aircraft flew in an area between mainland Taiwan and the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands at the top part of the South China Sea.

Some of the aircraft also briefly entered the strategic Bashi Channel off southern Taiwan that leads to the Pacific, according to a map provided by the ministry.

“The nation’s military has a full grasp and has made a full assessment of the situation in the Taiwan Strait region, as well as related developments at sea and in the air, and is prepared for various responses,” it added.

The PLA statement noted that recently, the United States and Taiwan have “repeatedly colluded in provocation and sent serious wrong signals, severely infringing upon China’s sovereignty, and severely undermining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait”.

“This exercise is a necessary action based on the current security situation across the Taiwan Strait and the need to safeguard national sovereignty. It is a solemn response to external interference and provocations by Taiwan independence forces.”

It was not immediately clear what set off the flurry of Chinese military activity, though earlier this month, the United States approved a new arms sale package to Taiwan, an artillery system valued at up to $750 million. read more

China believes Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen is a separatist bent on a formal declaration of independence, a red line for Beijing. Tsai said Taiwan is already an independent country called the Republic of China, its formal name.

Washington has expressed its concern about China’s pattern of intimidation in the region, including towards Taiwan, reiterating that U.S. commitment to Taiwan is “rock solid”.

China has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control.

Reporting by Yew Lun Tian and Yimou Lee; Writing and additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Taipei; Editing by Jacqueline Wong, Simon Cameron-Moore and Bernadette Baum

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Update: Senator reveals ‘30,000 US troops stationed in Taiwan island,’ equal to ‘declaring war on China’ if it’s true;tweet deleted after wide controversy

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A senior US senator, also a member of US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, on his social media revealed that the US has 30,000 soldiers stationed in China’s Taiwan island. If the tweet is correct, it is a military invasion and occupation of China’s Taiwan and equivalent to the US declaring war on China. China could immediately activate its Anti-Secession Law to destroy and expel US troops in Taiwan and reunify Taiwan militarily, some experts noted.Some others believe the news leaked by the US senator cannot be true because 30,000 is not some small amount that the US Army could hide and not being noticed in the island, and the US has nothing to gain by stationing the US Army in the island. Sacrificing its own interests to satisfy Taiwan separatists also does not fit with US foreign policy, just like the US did in Afghanistan.In the tweet, Senator John Cornyn listed the number of US troops stationed in South Korea, Germany, Japan, China’s Taiwan and on the African continent to show how the number of US soldiers has dwindled in Afghanistan. But in the process, Cornyn revealed the shocking news that there are 30,000 US troops in China’s Taiwan island.His tweet raised a wave of doubts among netizens with many commenting below his tweet: “how come the US still has troops in Taiwan,” “so the US army has a secret division in Taiwan,” “Cornyn must have mistaken the number,” and “this should have been before 1979.“Cornyn did not immediately delete his tweet or make any corrections after he posted it on early Tuesday. He deleted the tweet until later his tweet ignited wide controversy and media attention.Neither the senator nor the US government made any comments over the tweet.The Taiwan island “defense department” made a low-key denial on Tuesday, saying it is wrong and it would not comment on it, Taiwan-based media outlet reported.As a senior senator from Texas, who was once a Republican Senate Majority Whip for the 114th and 115th Congresses, and now a member of US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Cornyn should be aware of the US government’s military intelligence.Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Tuesday that such ridiculous and shocking news is more likely the result from the old age of the senator that makes him a dotard or his confusion about the data with previous data in the 1970s or 1960s. But we have to acknowledge that there are also some US senators fabricating data to boost their political careers.Whether it is a mistake or hype, we could see the US politician has a lack of political sensitivity and is irresponsible in making public remarks, which is jaw-dropping, Li said.“I would choose not to believe this is the real case,” Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Tuesday. He said the US cannot conceal 30,000 soldiers plus their equipment in the island. US would not dare or take such risk to do so. But we cannot rule out the possibility that the US would dispatch such amount of troops when a military conflict breaks out in the Taiwan Straits.If the US and China went to a war because US brazenly stationed troops in the island of Taiwan, whether 30,000 or 1,000, the price cannot be paid off for the US and the US clearly understands it. It is impossible for the US to be silly enough to sacrifice itself to satisfy Taiwan separatists, Li noted.Foreign policies of the US clearly demonstrate that the US would rather sacrifice its allies to satisfy its own demands and interests, as it has never been the opposite, and the scenarios in Afghanistan, Vietnam, Iraq and Syria are the evidence, the expert explained.Also the day happens to be August 17, the day marking the signing of the US-PRC Joint Communique (1982), which was achieved after contentious negotiations on the US arms sales to Taiwan, and acknowledged Taiwan is part of China.Intentional or not, such information being released on this special day is loathing and leaves the public an impression that the US may have gone back on its words as the communique stated, or whether the US is trying to probe China’s reactions over it through a charade. The US government and the Taiwan authorities should clarify Cornyn’s tweet, Chinese experts urged.China and the US established diplomatic relations in 1979 on the condition of the US ceasing official relations with the island and withdrawing all US military from the island. Secretly hiding 30,000 troops in Taiwan island would seriously violate the Sino-US diplomatic agreement, seriously violate international law, and even the domestic law of the US, a Chinese expert specializing on the Taiwan question told the Global Times on condition of anonymity.If the US really secretly stations 30,000 soldiers in China’s Taiwan island, the US as an external force is interfering with China’s internal affairs which violates China’s Anti-Secession Law. This would touch off a military conflict between the two countries, Song said.China firmly opposes any US military personnel involvement in Taiwan affairs, or US soldiers setting foot on the island or launching any kind of military cooperation with the army of Taiwan island, Song said.Some observers said if this is true, it’s tantamount to a military invasion and occupation of China’s Taiwan, and an act of declaring war on China. If the US really has troops stationed in Taiwan - even if the number is small - it would be a serious matter that has broken the bottom line.Those US troops must withdraw immediately and unconditionally, and the US government and Taiwan authorities must publicly apologize for this, observers noted.