White House reiterates support for Taiwan amid troop increase report
Washington, Feb. 23 (CNA) The White House on Thursday reiterated its support for Taiwan in response to a report that the Pentagon will expand the number of U.S. troops in Taiwan to train local forces against the threat from China.
"Our support for and defense relationship with Taiwan remains aligned against the current threat posed by the People's Republic of China and consistent with our one China policy. That has not changed," White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said when asked about the report in a daily press briefing.
"Our commitment to Taiwan contributes to the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and within the region," she said.
On the decision to put more troops in Taiwan, however, Jean-Pierre said questions on specific troop numbers should be referred to the Department of Defense, which had yet to respond to the report as of Thursday night U.S. time.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier Thursday that the U.S. is markedly increasing the number of troops deployed to Taiwan to bolster a training program for the island's military.
"The U.S. plans to deploy between 100 and 200 troops to the island in the coming months, up from roughly 30 there a year ago," the report said, citing U.S. officials.
The larger force will expand a training program the Pentagon has taken pains not to publicize as the U.S. works to provide Taipei with the capabilities it needs to defend itself without provoking Beijing, the report said.
The planned increase would also be the largest deployment of forces in decades by the U.S. on Taiwan, as the two draw closer to counter China's growing military power, according to the report.
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken again reiterated in a virtual discussion on Thursday why the United States felt the stakes in the Taiwan Strait were so high.
He said the high concern over a crisis across the Taiwan Strait existed because it was not an internal matter, as China frames it.
"It's a matter of concern to quite literally the entire world," he told Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic as they reviewed the implications of the Russian-Ukraine war one year later.
Fifty percent of the commercial container traffic goes through that waterway every day, Blinken said, and a big majority of the semiconductors that the world needs are produced on Taiwan.
"If there were a crisis in Taiwan as a result of China's aggression in some fashion, that would have I think disastrous consequences for the world economy and for countries around the world. And that's a message too that Beijing is hearing increasingly," he said.
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