Chinese leaders have blasted the US after a report on Thursday revealed that American special ops troops and Marines have been secretly training Taiwan forces for a year, as tension continue to mount between the two global superpowers.
US officials told the Wall Street Journal that around two dozen members of U.S. special-operations and support troops are training small units of Taiwan's ground forces, while Marines are working with local maritime forces against an increasing likelihood of a Chinese attack.
The report surfaced as the Biden administration announced they were further upping the ante on Beijing by reorganizing the Central Intelligence Agency to focus on its espionage efforts.
The move sparked fury among Chinese officials.
The state-run newspaper Global Times, seen as a 'mouthpiece' of the Chinese Communist Party, ran an editorial calling for the country's military to attack the US forces.
Editor Hu Xijin wrote: 'Why just two dozen members? Why secretly? The US should send 240 servicemen publicly, in US military uniform, and make public where they are stationed.
'See whether the PLA [People's Liberation Army] will launch a targeted air strike to eliminate those US invaders!'
Hu Xijin, editor in chief of the Global Times, shared his outrage on Twitter over the news that the US has been secretly training Taiwan troops for a year
This is the second time Chinese officials have allegedly threatened US forces in Taiwan after Sen. John Cornyn, of Texas, wrongly claimed in an August tweet that the US had roughly 30,000 troops in Taiwan.
State news in Beijing fired back that if that were the case, the Chinese military would 'crush them by force,' US News reports.
Cornyn later deleted the erroneous tweet, and was branded a 'dotard' by Chinese media.
Increasing tensions in the South Sea China have triggered warnings of war after China sent air sorties and hostile rhetoric towards the self-governing island.
US defense officials have warned that China may try to invade Taiwan in the near future.
Taiwan's Defense minister, Chiu Kuo-cheng, said a full-scale attack by China may come as soon as 2025.
CIA Director William Burns said the new unit was a result of strategic reviews that concentrated on 'China, technology, people, and partnerships.'
'CMC will further strengthen the agency's work on the most important geopolitical threat we face in the 21st century, an increasingly adversarial Chinese government,' he said.
The reorganization marks an indication of how the Biden administration is reorienting to face the threat from China.
And it comes amid growing concerns in particular about Taiwan and Beijing's threatening moves.
Chiu Kuo-cheng, the Taiwanese defense minister, warned that China could invade the self-governing island as soon as 2025 as tensions rise in the South Sea China
CIA Director William Burns said the most important geopolitical threat facing the U.S. was 'an increasingly adversarial Chinese government' as he launched the China Mission Center
He spoke after 150 Chinese warplanes violated Taiwan's 'air defense zone' at the weekend, including 52 which flew in the single-largest mission to date (pictured)
Taiwan is officially known as the Republic of China, and its capital of Taipei is the seat of the government that previously controlled the whole of China. They fought against the Communist Party when it first emerged during China's civil war.
When the communists won the war in 1949, mainland China became the People's Republic of China.
Today, Taiwan views itself as an autonomous country, while China sees it as a breakaway province.
Officially, Taiwan is not recognized as an independent country under international law.
America had backed the government in Taipei as China's legitimate rulers until 1979, when Jimmy Carter announced that he would recognize the Communist government in Beijing and establish diplomatic relations.
The Taiwan Relations Act was passed in response, granting the island near-nation status and mandating that the US continue to sell weapons to its government.
Long-standing tensions between Taiwan and the mainland have been growing since 2019, when President Xi gave a speech committing himself to the 'reunification' of the island with China - saying he will use force if he deems it necessary.
The US has a long-standing policy of 'strategic ambiguity' towards the island's defense, refusing to say what it would do if a foreign force attacks.
Biden recently suggested that he would be willing to go to war if China invaded, though aides insisted that he had misspoken.
They said the forces had been operating there for at least a year.
A Pentagon spokesperson declined to comment on the report directly.
'I would note, the PRC has stepped up efforts to intimidate and pressure Taiwan and other allies and partners, including increasing military activities conducted in the vicinity of Taiwan, East China Sea, and South China Sea which we believe are destabilizing and increase the risk of miscalculation,' said John Supple.
'I don't have any comments on specific operations, engagements, or training, but I would like to highlight that our support for and defense relationship with Taiwan remains aligned against the current threat posed by the People's Republic of China.
'We urge Beijing to honor its commitment to the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait differences, as delineated in the three communiques.'
The US has sold billions of dollars in weapons to Taiwan despite a policy of 'strategic ambiguity' over whether the U.S. would defend the island from a Chinese invasion.
But officials believe Taiwan must do more to counter the growing jeopardy it faces.
The recent clash of global super powers comes as a US fast-attack, nuclear-powered submarine struck an object while submerged in international waters in the Indo-Pacific region, the US Pacific Fleet said on Thursday, injuring as many as 11 sailors.
In a brief statement, the Navy said the USS Connecticut