US To Quadruple Troop Presence In Taiwan, Simultaneously Ratchets Pressure Over China-Russia Ties
Immediately on the heels of reports that the Biden administration is mulling going public with intelligence which it says shows China is poised to begin providing lethal aid to Russia (while at the same time acknowledging that no final decision has been made), the United States is set to more than quadruple its troop presence on the self-ruled island of Taiwan.
The troop surge would be done all in the name of an existent limited "training program" for Taiwanese partner forces, but sources in The Wall Street Journal cite the "rising threat from China". Again, the timing of the two reports emerging back to back in The Wall Street Journal is interesting, suggesting a connection as the two sides clash and test red lines on a variety of intersecting security issues.
First, US intelligence officials floated a clear warning against Beijing considering sending weapons to Moscow, and in follow-up an expanded US military presence in Taiwan is revealed. Certainly China will bristle at the fresh Washington pressure coming from both angles. Tensions have also boiled over the 'spy balloon' shootdown saga from earlier this month.
And on Thursday NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg added his voice, saying that the Western military alliance sees signs that "China is considering and may be planning to send arms to Russia."
The WSJ details of the question of more troops positioned in Taiwan, "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, according to U.S. officials."
It continues: "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." But going suddenly from dozens of troops to hundreds is without doubt going to provoke Beijing's wrath, also after last August's unprecedented island-encircling drills in response to Nancy Pelosi's trip to Taipei.
According to further details in the report:
The number of American troops, which has included special-operations forces and U.S. Marines, has fluctuated by a handful during the past few years, according to Defense Department data. The planned increase would 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.
China has meanwhile joined Russia in charging that the US and NATO have thwarted efforts to resolve the Ukraine crisis peacefully. This week's visit to Moscow of China's top diplomat Wang Yi emphasized precisely that Beijing sees its role as one of a peace-broker, while declaring that China and Russia are "like-minded partners".
This is crude propaganda and unworthy of a great power. The United States remains ready for meaningful cooperation to tackle shared global challenges. https://t.co/ZsntCxDIML pic.twitter.com/AEepa7X06b— Ambassador Nicholas Burns (@USAmbChina) February 23, 2023
Analysts cited in Financial Times say of China's strategy in pushing a plan for future negotiated settlement:
"Yes, they want better relations with Europe, but they also don’t want this war to go in a direction where Russia is completely defeated," said Yun Sun, a China expert at the Stimson Center think-tank in Washington.
While Beijing has not floated any firm details about its peace proposal, the foreign ministry has said it will reaffirm Xi’s earlier calls to respect sovereignty and territorial integrity, "take seriously the legitimate security concerns of all countries", uphold the UN Charter and avoid nuclear war.
* * *
Also on this note, Rabobank writes the following in preview of expected events Friday...
Tomorrow sees the China peace plan for Ukraine. On that note, look at this quote from the Global Times: “Since Kiev is deeply influenced by Washington, which is not interested in an immediate cease-fire but prefers a prolonged conflict to keep undermining Moscow and change the status quo by force, it is really hard to see a feasible formula for peace that both sides can accept. Peace may arrive only after more casualties and damage in the battlefields make at least one side change their mind.” Is that an implied threat to help Russia or resignation? Foreign Minister Wang Yi just underlined China-Russia ties are “rock solid”, and “no matter how the international situation changes, China is willing to maintain the sound development momentum on the new model of major-country relationship with Russia”. The Russians said the two countries favour building “a more just world order, and welcome the rise of the number of states which choose the path of free, sovereign development based on their identity and traditions.”