Senator mistakenly lists 30,000 US troops in Taiwan

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TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) on Tuesday (Aug. 17) mistakenly listed the U.S. as having 30,000 troops stationed in Taiwan, a country that has not seen an American military presence in over 40 years, leading to widespread criticism on Twitter.

In the wake of the disastrous collapse of the Afghan government following the rushed withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country, many politicians are arguing that the relatively small force that the U.S. had in place maintained stability in the nation at a comparatively low cost in terms of lives and money.

To illustrate this point, Cornyn took to Twitter on Tuesday to list other current U.S. troop deployments around the world that are much higher than the 2,500 stationed in Afghanistan as recently as two months ago.

Among the countries listed with major troop contingents were South Korea, Germany, Japan, and Taiwan, where he cited 30,000 soldiers in place. However, the U.S. has not stationed troops in Taiwan since 1979, when former President Carter severed diplomatic relations with the country.

Many Twitter users were aghast that a member of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence could get such basic information wrong. Others joked that Cornyn had accidentally leaked top-secret information about U.S. forces clandestinely stationed in Taiwan.

The last time the U.S. had 30,000 soldiers based in Taiwan was in the midst of the Vietnam War in the late 60s and early 70s. Many speculated that Cornyn may have obtained the number from a Wikipedia page on the defunct United States Taiwan Defense Command, which operated in Taiwan from Dec. 1954 to April 1979 and had 30,000 combined U.S. military personnel at its peak.

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.

Taiwan says contingency plans ready after China stages drills nearby

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