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U.S. seeks to step up and expand training of troops in Taiwan

The United States is set to expand the number of troops helping train Taiwanese forces, two U.S. officials said on Thursday, at a time of heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing.

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The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the Pentagon is expected to increase that number in the coming months.

The Wall Street Journal reported the U.S. plans to deploy between 100 and 200 troops to the island in the coming months, up from roughly 30 that there a year ago, according to U.S. officials.

However, the move was unrelated to recent tensions over the shootdown of a Chinese spy balloon which flew across the United States, the U.S. officials stated.

The balloon caused a political uproar in Washington and prompted Secretary of State Antony Blinken to cancel a trip to Beijing that both countries had hoped would steady their rocky relations.

“We don’t have a comment on specific operations, engagements, or training, but I would highlight that our support for, and defense relationship with, Taiwan remains aligned against the current threat posed by the People’s Republic of China,” a Pentagon spokesman said.

China sees Taiwan as a wayward province and has not ruled out taking the island by force. Taiwan says it is an independent country and will defend its democracy and freedom.

The United States is Taiwan’s largest supplier of weaponry and has long offered some degree of training on weapons systems, as well as detailed advice on ways to strengthen its military to guard against an invasion by China’s People’s Liberation Army.

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