2022 – Tsai says the US National Guard plans to “cooperate” with the Taiwanese military

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© Reuters. Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen delivers a speech at a classification ceremony for military officials from the Army, Navy and Air Force at the Ministry of Defense in Taipei, Taiwan, on December 28, 2021. Photo: Annabelle Chih/Reuters

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TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen said on Tuesday the United States is planning “cooperation” between the National Guard and the Taiwan military, deepening security ties amid the Taipei government’s concerns about the growing threat from China.

The United States is Taiwan’s largest international arms supporter and supplier, according to Chinese claims, although it does not have formal diplomatic relations. China has increased its military activity near Taiwan, and its military said last week that it had recently conducted exercises around Taiwan as a “serious warning” of “collusion” with the United States.

In a meeting with US Senator Tammy Duckworth in Taipei, Tsai noted that Duckworth was a major sponsor of the Taiwan Partnership Act, which has bipartisan support but is not yet in force.

“As a result, the US Department of Defense is now proactively planning for cooperation between the US National Guard and the Taiwan Defense Forces,” Tsai said.

“We look forward to closer and deeper cooperation between Taiwan and the United States on regional security issues,” she added.

Taiwan media previously reported that Taiwan may work with Hawaii’s National Guard on the programme.

The Chinese military exercises came after US President Joe Biden angered China by apparently signaling a change in US policy of “strategic ambiguity” toward Taiwan by saying the United States would intervene militarily if China attacked the island. US officials said there was no change in policy.

Tsai oversaw the modernization of Taiwan’s armed forces, including reforming the reserve forces to make them more combative.

Later speaking with Taiwanese Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang, Duckworth said she brought with her the director of the US National Guard Government Partnership Program “who will work with you in building your overall defense.”

She did not go into details. The state partnership program brings together US National Guard units with other states to help with training and interoperability.

However, Taiwan was not included in the US Indo-Pacific Prosperity Economic Framework (IPEF) last week, despite its lobbying efforts.

Tsai said Taiwan will continue to express its willingness to participate.

“In the near future, we look forward to Taiwan and the United States working together to take new steps to develop concrete plans that will deepen our economic partnership.”

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has voiced opposition to Duckworth’s visit, as it has done against all high-level appointments between Taiwan and the United States.

“China will continue to take strong measures to uphold its national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said in Beijing.