American special forces have been secretly training troops in Taiwan for months.
As a Pentagon representative with the AFP news agency said on Thursday, a contingent of around 20 US soldiers has been training Taiwanese army and navy personnel for less than a year.
The official, who wanted to remain anonymous, largely confirmed a report by the Wall Street Journal about the deployment of a special unit and marines in Taiwan.
The process could further fuel military tensions between China, Taiwan and the US.
Officially, Pentagon spokesman John Supple stated: "Our support for and our defense relations with Taiwan remain focused on the current threat posed by the People's Republic of China."
Taiwan's Ministry of Defense, however, refused to comment.
Taiwan's main ally
The latent, constant military tensions between Beijing and Taipei have increased significantly in recent years. The People's Republic of China sees the democratically governed island as part of its national territory that is to be reunited with the mainland - if necessary with military force. The US is Taiwan's most important ally and the only state that still supplies it with weapons on a large scale. Warships of the USA and allied nations such as Great Britain or France repeatedly cross the international waters of the Taiwan Strait, which Beijing calls a provocation. However, you do not invest in Taiwan.
The United States had official relations with Taipei instead of Beijing until 1979.
At that time there was a defense agreement with the Republic of China, as the state is officially called in Taiwan, and numerous American troops were stationed on the island.
That ended with the severance of diplomatic relations under President Jimmy Carter.
In return, the US Congress passed a law, which is still in force today, obliging the government to prevent a violent change in Taiwan's status quo.
It is also the basis for the American arms shipments.
Some US soldiers have been there for a long time
In 2019, the US confirmed that since 2005, some active soldiers - including Marines - have been in Taiwan to protect their unofficial representation, as is customary at American embassies.
In 2020, the American mission announced that technical specialists from the US Army have been training and advising Taiwan's military on site since 2016.
A year ago, the Taiwanese press, citing the government's naval command, reported that US marines and special forces had arrived in Taiwan to train Taiwanese armed forces.
At the time, however, these reports were denied by the Taiwanese and US authorities.
Observers believe it is likely that the Pentagon itself launched the news of the dispatch of the special forces to emphasize Taiwan's importance and prevent Beijing from risky military action.
Most recently, an unusually large number of Chinese fighter planes broke into Taiwan's air defense zone over several days.
Taiwan's defense minister warned that the People's Republic could be militarily armed for an attack by 2025.
In addition to its role as a threatened democracy, Taiwan, with its 23 million inhabitants, is the most important location for the global semiconductor industry.
In addition, due to its location in the so-called "first chain of islands" that separates China from the Pacific, it is of great strategic importance for the USA as well as for the People's Republic.
It is conceivable that Beijing, with Taiwan under its control, could cut off the sea routes to its US allies Japan and South Korea.Keywords: