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Pentagon, Taiwan say report US Marines training in Taiwan is ‘inaccurate’

Marines with the Maritime Raid Force, during a visit, board, search and seizure exercise. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Matthew Teutsch)
November 13, 2020

The U.S. Department of Defense and Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense have both denied reports that U.S. Marines visited Taiwan to help train Taiwanese troops.

On Monday, Taiwan News reported Taiwan’s Naval Command had confirmed the training plans with U.S. Marines, however, Pentagon spokesman John Supple told Marine Corps Times on Tuesday that “The reports about U.S. Marines on Taiwan are inaccurate.”

Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Shih Shun-wen also told Taipei Times the report lacked factual basis and called on media outlets to not propagate false information. Taiwan News also reported the new statement by Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense, in which it said reports of Marines training at  Taiwan’s Tsoying Naval Base this week were “not consistent with the facts.”

Had the initially reported training exercise been confirmed, it would have been the first publicly acknowledged training event with U.S. troops in Taiwan since the U.S. adopted the One-China policy in 1979.

Supple added that “The United States remains committed to our One-China Policy based on the three Joint Communiques, Taiwan Relations Act, and Six Assurances.” The One-China policy acknowledges the People’s Republic of China’s legal claim of control over Taiwan.

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The official U.S. position is to adhere to the One-China policy, though China has shown concerns over U.S. and Taiwanese actions in recent months. In September, Chinese warplanes flew over Taiwan as Keith Krach, the U.S. Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment visited the country. China has also warned in recent weeks against Taiwan strengthening ties with the U.S.

China also announced it would sanction U.S. arms makers, including Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Raytheon, over arms sales to Taiwan.  According to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the U.S. arms sales to Taiwan include an approximately $1 billion package of AGM-84H Standoff Land Attack Missile air-to-ground missiles from Boeing, $436.1 million in High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) M142 Launchers from Lockheed Martin and $367.2 million in aircraft reconnaissance pods from Collins Aerospace, a subsidiary of Raytheon.

“The United States will continue to make available to Taiwan such defense articles and defense services in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain sufficient self-defense capabilities,” Supple told Marine Corps Times.

Over the past year, the U.S. Navy has sailed ships through the Taiwan Strait, which runs between Taiwan and the Chinese mainland. U.S. Air Force aircraft have also reportedly flown north to south through the Taiwan Strait and along Taiwan’s east coast.