Bolton Says Pentagon Should Station Troops in Taiwan

Former US national security adviser John Bolton has called on the US over the weekend to both station troops in Taiwan and officially grant the island nation full diplomatic recognition.

In a pre-recorded remarks released on April 16 at the Global Taiwan National Affairs Symposium, Bolton stressed that Taiwan should ramp up its military cooperation with Washington and start hosting American troops on its soil as harkening back to the allies’ arrangement prior to the 1979 switch of diplomatic recognition to Beijing.

With as many as 19,000 troops deployed, the US maintained a military presence in Taiwan between 1950 and 1979 which changed with the Nixon-era rapprochement with Beijing, which culminated under Jimmy Carter in Washington’s change of diplomatic recognition of China to the mainland.

Bolton, who is seen as one of America’s most hawkish officials, insisted that it’s time to abandon strategic ambiguity about the US – Taiwan relationship and that both allies should boost military spending on the island’s defense.

He noted that the American troops’ formal stationing could build Taiwan’s military deterrence and be part of a solution to the threat from China, pointing out to the Russian invasion of Ukraine as an example of a failure of deterrence due to the lack of American credibility.

Despite the 1979 changes, Washington has kept informal diplomatic, trade, and military relations with the island, including by keeping some military personnel as trainers and advisors, as well as guards at the de facto US embassy in the American Institute in Taiwan.

In an escalatory move last October, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen openly acknowledged the presence of US military personnel on the self-governed island where their presence had long been an open secret.

Bolton has long advocated taking steps toward what he describes as deterring an aggressive China, including by beefing up the number of American troops in Taiwan, and he even managed to push through a troop surge when he was advising the Trump administration, a policy that President Biden continued.

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