Will US Troops Return to Taiwan?

Washington appears to be suggesting it would be willing to put boots on the ground again in Taiwan.

For the past several years, China has been going to exaggerated lengths to isolate Taiwan – diplomatically, militarily, even epidemiologically. But Taipei and Washington have been finding some subtle but pointed ways to make clear that the self-ruled island is not exactly alone. There was, for example, the photo Taipei released earlier this month of President Tsai Ing-wen and her Cabinet walking down a hallway at an early warning radar site, with a U.S. military technical officer lurking in the background. In August, there was the U.S.-released photo of a bunch of Taiwanese airmen and, conspicuously, a handful of U.S. avionics advisers, posing in front of a Patriot missile battery in Taiwan. Also in August, there was the first-ever visit by Taiwanese troops to the de facto U.S. embassy in Taipei, where Washington has openly discussed stationing troops. Taiwan and the U.S. have little reason to play coy about traditional means of U.S. support for the self-ruled island. The U.S. is required by U.S. law to sell Taiwan the arms it needs to defend itself, and it doesn’t typically do so covertly. Such arms packages have been getting larger and more frequent over the past couple of years, as have […]

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Phillip Orchard
Phillip Orchard is an analyst at Geopolitical Futures. Prior to joining the company, Mr. Orchard spent nearly six years at Stratfor, working as an editor and writing about East Asian geopolitics. He’s spent more than six years abroad, primarily in Southeast Asia and Latin America, where he’s had formative, immersive experiences with the problems arising from mass political upheaval, civil conflict and human migration. Mr. Orchard holds a master’s degree in Security, Law and Diplomacy from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, where he focused on energy and national security, Chinese foreign policy, intelligence analysis, and institutional pathologies. He also earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas. He speaks Spanish and some Thai and Lao.