Following reports that the U.S. deployed personnel to Taiwan to train local forces, the editorial of the Chinese Global Times state media outlet warned that the development could make conflict across the Taiwan Strait more likely. Taipei and Beijing have been technically at war for over 70 years, and both claim to be the sole legitimate governments of the Chinese nation. Both Taiwan and the Chinese mainland are recognised as part of a single country by the United Nations, by all UN member states, and by both the Beijing and Taipei governments, although the latter has no representation at the UN and almost no international recognition. The deployment of U.S. forces to Taiwan is thus a deployment to territory internationally recognised, including by Washington itself, as part of China, without Beijing’s permission. It is on this basis that the deployment has been viewed as unacceptable on the mainland.
Global Times editor-in-chief Hu Xijin suggested Beijing could“launch a targeted air strike” to neutralise American assets on Taiwan, stressing that the U.S. presence would undermine relations between Washington and Beijing. “The U.S. wants to get on the mainland’s nerves. This is a consistent tactic of Washington. The mainland must respond to the US’ new provocations to make both Washington and the island of Taiwan fully realise the severity of their collusion”, the times wrote. The presence of U.S. forces on Taiwan is hardly unprecedented, with American special forces having begun training Taipei’s forces for at least two years in more temporary deployments. The balance of power across the Taiwan Strait has increasingly favoured Beijing over the last three decades, with the mainland’s Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) expected to be able to take the entire territory of Taiwan within a week. Tensions come as the PLA has deployed new assets near the Taiwan Strait, most recently new J-16D electronic attack jets specialised in neutralising enemy ground based radar and air defence sites the latter which Taiwan relies on particularly heavily to compensate for the limited capabilities of its combat aviation.