After on Thursday Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen confirmed the presence of American troops on Taiwanese soil for the first time in 40 years, adding provocatively that she is confident the United States would defend the self-ruled island if it were attacked by China, later in the day Beijing reacted by denouncing what it says is a violation of the "One China principle".
China's Foreign Ministry charged Washington with "sending wrong signals" to Taiwan independence forces while engaged in reckless "muscle flexing" and in "coercion" which is "leading to a dead end" that threatens "peace and stability".
Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said, "The one-China principle is the political foundation of China-US relations. On the Taiwan question, the US should abide by the one-China principle and the stipulations of the three China-US joint communiqués, rather than something unilaterally concocted by itself." He made clear on the presence of US troops that "We firmly oppose official and military ties in any form between the US and the Taiwan region, and oppose the US interference in China's internal affairs."
And further calling a Taiwan move toward independence "retrogressive", the statement continued:
The cross-Strait reunification is an overriding historical trend and the right course, while "Taiwan independence" is a retrogression leading to a dead end. The DPP authorities' acts of seeking "Taiwan independence" can not change the iron-clad fact that Taiwan is a part of China, neither will it shake the international community's universal and firm commitment to the one-China principle. Those who forget their heritage, betray their motherland, and seek to split the country will come to no good end.
Also interesting is what a former instructor for China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) told The South China Morning Post. The official, identified as Song Zhongping, underscored the "serious political and military provocation" intended by Washington as a message to Beijing.
"By revealing the US troops’ presence in Taiwan, Tsai is saying that Taiwan has the backing of the US so the PLA should not act rashly. This is a serious political and military provocation," the former PLA commander said.
He said that while China is expected to pursue 'peaceful reunification' by creating the conditions of Taiwanese public support, China would be ready to act militarily if the US intervenes too strongly. "But, on the other hand, mainland China will step up preparations for a military struggle with the US," the former military official said.
Early in the month a bombshell Wall Street Journal report revealed (though Taiwanese media had the scoop long prior) that US Marines had been in Taiwan for "at least a year" - and it didn't take long for US defense officials to confirm the story. Very likely, Chinese intelligence already knew as much, however.