U.S. Reinstating Marines on Taipei

The United States is planning to reinstate troops as guards at the new compound of its de facto diplomatic mission in Taipei, despite lacking official diplomatic relations with Taiwan. The move is likely to enhance U.S.-Taiwan relations while further dampening relations with China.

Beijing continues to consider Taiwan a breakaway province and the U.S. has not stationed troops at the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) since 1979, when she officially recognized Beijing under the “One-China” policy.

Analysts believe U.S. President Donald Trump is likely to improve relations with Taiwan despite China’s opposition and reports that he vowed to maintain the policy while speaking with President Xi Jinping on February 9.

Hu Benliang, an associate research fellow with the Institute of Taiwan Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said: “What Trump says is different from the measures and policy that he is pursuing. Both sides are still engaged in a power play [over Taiwan]. But in order to contain China, [Washington] just cannot give up the Taiwan card.”

Stephen Young, a former director of AIT said the U.S. would send marines soon. But the move shouldn’t cause much surprise.

Former President Barack Obama signed the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, which authorized the Pentagon to conduct senior military exchanges between Taiwan and the U.S.

Senior officials have not confirmed the move and China remains quiet.

The ministries of foreign affairs and defense did not respond to a request for comment from the South China Morning Post. Nor did the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council.

Lo Chih-cheng, the head of the international affairs department of Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party, said: “The posting could mean there will be more obvious military exchanges between the United States and Taiwan, but it is far from the US stationing troops in Taiwan.”