TAIPEI (Dispatches) -- The United States is planning on “cooperation” between its National Guard and Taiwan’s military, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said on Tuesday, deepening security ties in the face of China’s indignation.
The United States is Chinese-claimed Taiwan’s most important supporter and arms supplier, despite the lack of formal diplomatic ties. China has been stepping up its military activities near Taiwan and its military said last week it had recently conducted an exercise around Taiwan as a “solemn warning” against “collusion” with the United States.
Meeting visiting U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth in Taipei, Tsai noted that Duckworth was one of the main sponsors of the Taiwan Partnership Act, which has received bipartisan support though has yet to become law.
“As a result, the U.S. Department of Defense is now proactively planning cooperation between the U.S. National Guard and Taiwan’s defense forces,” Tsai said, without giving details.
“We look forward to closer and deeper Taiwan-U.S. cooperation on matters of regional security,” she added.
Taiwanese media has previously reported that Taiwan could partner with Hawaii’s National Guard for the program.
The exercise by China’s military came after U.S. President Joe Biden angered China by appearing to signal a change in a U.S. policy of “strategic ambiguity” on Taiwan by saying the United States would become involved militarily if China were to attack the island. U.S. officials said there had been no change in policy.
Tsai has been overseeing the purported modernization of Taiwan’s armed forces, including reforming its reserve forces to make them more combat capable.
Speaking later with Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang, Duckworth said she had brought with her the director of the U.S. National Guard’s State Partnership Program “which will be working with you on setting up your all-out defense”.
China’s Foreign Ministry expressed its opposition to Duckworth’s visit, as it does to all high-level engagements between Taiwan and the United States.
“China will continue to take strong measures to resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said in Beijing.
Tsai’s announcement of closer military cooperation with the U.S. came after the island claimed that China has made the second largest incursion into Taiwan’s so-called air defense zone this year.
Taiwan’s defense ministry said late Monday it had scrambled its own aircraft and deployed air defense missile systems to monitor the latest Chinese activity.
Taipei said Monday’s incursion was the largest since January 23, when 39 planes entered the air defense identification zone, or ADIZ.