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China Urges U.S. to Abide by Deal to Keep Troops Out of Taiwan

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 10/8/2021 Bloomberg News
China Calls on U.S. to Withdraw American Troops From Taiwan © Photographer: NurPhoto/NurPhoto China Calls on U.S. to Withdraw American Troops From Taiwan

(Bloomberg) -- China called on the U.S. to abide by its agreement to withdraw troops from Taiwan, in a relatively muted response to reports that a small number of American military advisers have been deployed to the island. 

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Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian urged the U.S. to uphold the consensus that led Washington to sever ties with Taipei in favor of Beijing more than four decades ago, including ending its formal security pact. Zhao was responding Friday to reports that about two dozen American military advisers have been deployed on the island. 

“The One China principle is the political foundation of China and U.S. relations,” Zhao told a regular news briefing in Beijing. “The U.S. must sever diplomatic relations and abrogate its mutual defense treaty with Taiwan and U.S. forces must withdraw from Taiwan.”

The U.S. was training local forces to better defend the democratically ruled island from a future attack by China, a U.S. defense official told Bloomberg News on Thursday. The official, who asked not to be identified, confirmed an earlier report by the Wall Street Journal that American service members, including special forces, have been in Taiwan for more than a year. 

Video: Biden: China agreed to abide by Taiwan agreement (Reuters)

The subdued response comes as the two sides make plans to hold a video summit between President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping before the end of the year. The announcement of the meeting followed six hours of talks Wednesday between White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi in Zurich, including discussions on Taiwan. 

While the U.S. has stepped up diplomatic and military support for Taiwan in response to a pressure campaign by Xi, it was unclear whether the deployment was new or related to that effort. The U.S. has played down military interactions with the island since ending its alliance with Taipei and establishing ties with Beijing in 1979.

“The U.S. has made its clear commitment to China,” Zhao said Friday. “In his phone call with President Xi Jinping, President Biden emphasized that it has no intention to change the One China principle.” 

The presence of small numbers of U.S. forces on the island wasn’t unprecedented. Still, the deployment of foreign forces on Taiwan is one of six conditions Chinese military commanders have set for launching a military strike, according to a state media report in April 2020 that cited a retired researcher with the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force. 

Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of the Communist Party’s Global Times newspaper, earlier called on the U.S. to disclose the troops’ location, suggesting that would aid a Chinese attack. “See whether the PLA will launch a targeted air strike to eliminate those US invaders!” he said in a tweet.

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