Taiwan’s defense minister on Tuesday appeared to confirm a report that said Taiwanese Marines are being trained by their US counterparts in Guam.
The report from Taiwan’s Apple Daily said about 40 members of Taiwan's Republic of China Marine Corps were selected to partake in drills led by US Marines in Guam for one month.
Discussing the report, Taiwanese Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said, "We have a long history of exchanges and cooperation with the United States. There is necessary interaction on some levels, and this forms part of the exchanges."
According to Apple Daily, the training is happening under a program known as "Marine Roar" that was established in 1958 when the US and Taiwan still shared a mutual defense treaty. The program stopped in 1979 when Washington severed official relations with Taipei, but it was revived in 2017.
The revelation comes after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen confirmed the presence of US troops on the island of Taiwan, making her the first Taiwanese leader to do so since 1979.
The South China Morning Post reported Monday that China had been aware that the US has deployed small numbers of troops to Taiwan for training purposes over the past few decades.
A Chinese military source told the Post that the US and China had a tacit understanding over the issue, and Taiwan’s acknowledgment was meant as a provocation. The source said the move was a "politically-motivated attempt to provoke the mainland authorities' bottom line."