In response to reports that a small number of American military advisers have been deployed to Taiwan, China called on the US to stick to its agreement to withdraw soldiers from the island.
Zhao Lijian, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, urged the US to uphold the consensus that led to Washington's decision to cut ties with Taipei in favour of Beijing more than four decades ago, including terminating their official security pact. Zhao was responding to news that around half-dozen American military advisers had arrived on the island.
Zhao said that "the One China principle is the political foundation of China-US relations. The US must terminate diplomatic relations with Taiwan and dissolve its mutual defence treaty, and US soldiers must leave Taiwan.”
A US defence official said that the US was training local forces to better protect the democratically ruled island from a future Chinese attack. An official verified that American troops, including special forces, have been stationed in Taiwan for more than a year.
The subdued reaction comes as the two countries prepare for a video conference between Presidents Biden and Xi before the end of the year. The meeting was announced after a meeting in Zurich between White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and top Chinese official Yang Jiechi, which included talks on Taiwan.
Although the US has increased diplomatic and military backing for Taiwan in response to Xi's pressure campaign, it was unclear whether the deployment was new or related to that effort. Since abandoning its alliance with Taipei in 1979 and developing ties with Beijing, the US has downplayed military interactions with the island.
Zhao stated "The US has made its clear commitment to China." In his phone contact with President Xi, President Biden reiterated that he has no intention to change the One China principle.