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Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the Chinese state-run Global Times, said the US and Taiwan “must explain” figures posted by an American Senator which claimed 30,000 US troops are on the island. It comes as Beijing and Washington have suffered worsening relations over Taiwanese independence, as well as operations in the South China Sea.
US Senator John Cornyn, Republican for Texas, posted on Twitter figures of American soldiers stationed in foreign countries.
Mr Cornyn’s post was uploaded in reference to the US pulling forces out of Afghanistan, with 2,500 “a month or two ago” in the country.
However, in his post, he said that 30,000 US troops are currently stationed in Taiwan.
Commenters believe Mr Cornyn is referencing the size of the United States Taiwan Defense Command, which boasted 30,000 troops from Combined Arms and branches but ceased operations in 1979.
China news: State media has threatened war after a Senator claimed US troops are in Taiwan (Image: PA)
China news: Hu Xijin said ‘military forces will immediately launch a war to eliminate’ US troops (Image: TWITTER)
The figures have sparked outrage in China, with Mr Hu warning that if Mr Cornyn’s post is accurate then Beijing will declare war with Taiwan.
He said: “Now, the US and the Taiwan authorities must explain.
“If it is true that the US has 30,000, or less than that number, soldiers stationed on the Taiwan island, Chinese military forces will immediately launch a war to eliminate and expel the US soldiers.”
He added later: “Someone said that John Cornyn mistook that number by using the number of previous US troops stationed on Taiwan island before China and the US set up diplomatic relations.
“I think the senator is not confused, and he wants to test our response. My answer to him is war.”
China news: John Cornyn is suggested to have used figures from 1979 (Image: TWITTER)
China news: Beijing has warned Taiwan of the US’ ‘fleeing action’ after Afghanistan (Image: PA)
Shen Shiwei, a CGTN journalist, echoed Mr Hu’s response, saying: “So the US army has a secret division in Taiwan?!”
The Chinese Kuomintang, a Taiwanese political party, also took issue with Mr Cornyn’s post, saying there are no US troops in the country.
They said: “There are not 30,000 US troops in Taiwan! The last U.S. soldier left Taiwan on 3 May 1979.”
Ron Hogan, the founder of Beatrice.com, also suggested Mr Cornyn would have realised there were no US troops in Taiwan “if you’d done more than skim the Wikipedia page”.
China news: The US has pulled all forces out of Afghanistan after 20 years of war (Image: EXPRESS)
It comes after China warned Taiwan the US “fleeing action” is a forecast in an apparent reference to the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.
Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University, warned the US could “cast aside” Taiwan should it fight for its sovereignty.
He told the Global Times: “The US’ fleeing action is a warning to the Taiwan secessionists, or rather, a forecast.”
Jin Canrong, associate dean of the School of International Studies at the Renmin University of China, echoed Mr Li’s remarks.
He said the US would make an “empty promise” to Taipei as it did with Afghanistan.