The U.S. National Guard is planning a “cooperation” program with the Taiwanese military, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen announced Tuesday.
Tsai has not offered details regarding the upcoming cooperation, but previous reports suggest the Taiwan military may link with the Hawaii National Guard. Tsai made the announcement during a meeting in Taipei with Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.
“The U.S. Department of Defense is now proactively planning cooperation between the U.S. National Guard and Taiwan’s defense forces,” Tsai said. “We look forward to closer and deeper Taiwan-U.S. cooperation on matters of regional security.”
The announcement comes as China is ramping up its military aggression near Taiwanese territory. Mainland China has long claimed Taiwan as its own territory, and has threatened to take it back by force.
“US politicians should earnestly abide by the one-China principle & the three China-US joint communiqués, immediately stop all forms of official interactions with Taiwan, and avoid sending any wrong signal to “Taiwan independence” separatist forces,” China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in reaction to Duckworth’s visit.
The U.S. has maintained a complicated relationship with Taiwan, being its largest international supporter and arms supplier while not holding formal diplomatic ties. The U.S. continues to abide by the Taiwan Relations Act, which acknowledges, but does not endorse, China’s claim to own the island.
President Biden has further complicated relations by repeatedly stating that the U.S. military would intervene if China were to invade the island. The U.S. has made no such commitment and White House staff have had to walk back such statements from Biden three times thus far in his term.
Direct cooperation between the U.S. and Taiwanese militaries would be only the latest major display of unity between the two governments. Six U.S. congressmen traveled to the Island in April, the largest and highest-level U.S. delegation to ever visit the island.