Tsai says US National Guard plans ‘cooperation’ with Taiwan military

TAIPEI, May 31 (Reuters) – The United States is considering “cooperation” between its national guard and the Taiwanese military, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said on Tuesday, strengthening security ties amid a government Taipei calls it a growing threat. from China.

The United States is, according to China, Taiwan’s most important international supporter and arms supplier, despite the lack of formal diplomatic relations. China has stepped up military activity near Taiwan, and its military said last week it recently conducted a drill around Taiwan as a “solemn warning” against “collusion” with the United States.

Meeting with U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth in Taipei, Tsai noted that Duckworth was a key sponsor of Taiwan’s Partnership Law, which has received bipartisan support but has yet to be enacted.

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“As a result, the US Department of Defense is now proactively planning cooperation between the US National Guard and the Taiwan Defense Forces,” Tsai said, without giving details.

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

Taiwanese media previously reported that Taiwan may partner with the Hawaii National Guard for the program.

The Chinese military drill came after US President Joe Biden angered China by appearing to signal a shift in US policy of “strategic ambiguity” in Taiwan by saying the US is would involve militarily if China attacked the island. US officials said there had been no change in policy.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen speaks during a rank conferring ceremony for military officials of the army, navy and air force, at the Ministry of Defense in Taipei, Taiwan, December 28, 2021. REUTERS / Annabelle Chih

Tsai oversaw the modernization of Taiwan’s armed forces, including reforming its reserve forces to make them more combat-capable.

Speaking later to Taiwanese Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang, Duckworth said she had brought with her the director of the US National Guard’s State Partnership Program “who will work with you to put in place your total defense. “.

She did not specify. The State Partnership Program pairs U.S. National Guard units with other countries to help with training and interoperability.

Taiwan, however, was not included in the United States’ Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity, or IPEF, last week despite its lobbying efforts.

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

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

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has expressed its opposition to Duckworth’s visit, as it has to all high-level engagements between Taiwan and the United States.

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

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Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Martin Pollard in Beijing, editing by Lincoln Feast and Edwina Gibbs

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