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Chinese state media chief threatens air strike on US troops reported to be in Taiwan

Chinese J-16 fighter jet. (Ministry of National Defense of Taiwan, Released)
October 07, 2021

After a report from the Wall Street Journal on Thursday claimed U.S. troops have been training troops in Taiwan for the past year, the editor-in-chief of the Chinese state-run Global Times said those U.S. troops should reveal their location and see whether they will be attacked and “eliminated” with a “targeted air strike” by China’s military.

Based on the accounts of unnamed U.S. officials, the Wall Street Journal reported that about two dozen members of U.S. Special Operations troops and U.S. Marines have been actively training Taiwanese military units for about the last year in secret.

Reacting to the allegations, Global Times editor-in-chief Hu Xijin tweeted, “Why just two dozen members? Why secretly? The US should send 240 servicemen publicly, in US military uniform, and make public where they are stationed. See whether the PLA will launch a targeted air strike to eliminate those US invaders!”

This is not the first time Hu has tweeted calls for China’s military to react to allegations of U.S. military activity in Taiwan. In August, after Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) appeared to mistakenly claim there are 30,000 U.S. troops currently stationed in Taiwan, Hu tweeted, “Now, the US and the Taiwan authorities must explain. If it is true that the US has 30,000, or less than that number, soldiers stationed on the Taiwan island, Chinese military forces will immediately launch a war to eliminate and expel the US soldiers.”

In another inflammatory tweet in June, Hu called for China to ready its nuclear arsenal in anticipation of “a high-intensity showdown between the US and China” after President Joe Biden called on U.S. intelligence agencies to redouble their investigations of the origins of COVID-19, including the possibility that the virus leaked from a virology lab in Wuhan, China.

While Taiwan considers itself an independent nation, China claims the island is part of its territory and has warned that U.S. support for Taiwan would violate the One-China Policy held by the U.S.

The Wall Street Journal’s report of a U.S. troop presence in Taiwan comes amid a spike in China’s pressure campaign against Taiwan. In recent days, China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has flown a series of large-scale military flights into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ), prompting Taiwan to issue radio warnings, activate its missile defenses and deploy its own aircraft to dissuade the Chinese warplanes.

The Wall Street Journal’s new report that U.S. troops have been training in Taiwan for at least a year comes after reports first circulated in November of 2020 that U.S. Marines were on the island. Taiwan’s Taiwan News was the first to initially report U.S. troops had arrived on the island, before both U.S. and Taiwanese military officials came forward to dispute the reporting.

While it’s unclear if U.S. troops are actually in Taiwan, the U.S. has offered more overt forms of support to Taiwan in recent years. In August, President Joe Biden approved the sale of 40 155mm M109A6 Medium Self-Propelled Howitzer self-propelled artillery systems to Taiwan. Before Biden, President Donald Trump approved several separate sales of missile systems to Taiwan in the fall of 2020, including 100 Harpoon anti-ship missiles11 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and 135 AGM-84H Standoff Land Attack Missile Expanded Response (SLAM-ER) Missiles, together valuing about $3.8 billion in arms to Taiwan.