U.S. troops could move to Taiwan from Okinawa: Trump adviser

Former ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton advocates closer ties to Taiwan

  9908
John Bolton.

John Bolton. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – John Bolton, a foreign policy adviser of United States President-elect Donald Trump, said U.S. troops could be stationed in Taiwan as a response to protests in Japan and to Chinese “belligerence.”

The suggestion from the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations came in a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece published Tuesday. Bolton has frequently been described as a “foreign policy hawk” with strong views on Taiwan.

His comments were expected to cause further unease in China, which was angry at Trump accepting a phone call from President Tsai Ing-wen last month and at his tough talk over trade with Beijing.

Bolton, who was once named as a potential secretary of state in the Trump Administration, said in his op-ed piece that the U.S. could “enhance its East Asia military posture by increasing U.S. military sales to Taiwan and by again stationing military personnel and assets there.”

Bolton suggested that there would be no full-scale military alliance with Taiwan, and that no agreement from the U.S. Congress would be necessary because “the Taiwan Relations Act is expansive enough to encompass” a limited military relationship. The TRA, passed after President Jimmy Carter decided to switch relations to Beijing in 1979, allows the U.S. to supply Taiwan with the weapons it needs for its defense.

Bolton mentioned the possibility of stationing U.S. troops in Taiwan partly as a way of defusing protests by residents of Okinawa in Japan, many of whom have been calling for the closure of U.S. bases there.

He also noted Taiwan’s proximity to the South China Sea and mainland Asia compared to Okinawa and Guam. Any presence in Taiwan would give U.S. troops “greater flexibility for rapid deployment throughout the region should the need arise,” Bolton wrote.

If China disagreed, there should be talks between Washington and Beijing, he suggested. No response from China to Bolton’s article was immediately available, but Beijing was likely to be furious at any suggestion U.S. troops could be stationed in Taiwan, due to its emphasis on “One China” and the ending of Taiwan-U.S. relations in 1979.