House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not confirmed whether she will visit Taiwan, but rumors of her possible visit to the self-governing island are enough to spark tensions between the US and China, the latter accusing Washington of. provocation” and a promise to respond with “strong countermeasures”.
While the US has warned China against turning Pelosi’s possible visit into an unnecessary crisis (as Washington insists the House speaker’s visit does not challenge Taiwan’s status quo) Beijing has not lagged behind.
Taiwanese media reported that a Chinese missile destroyer appeared off the coast of Lanyu in Orchard Island on Tuesday.
Tensions are rising in the South China Sea with the current dispute, which is already fueling Beijing’s claims of sovereignty (disputed by several countries including Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam). newsweek It looks at how the military presence of the US and China compares in the region.
The US has an informal military presence in Taiwan, which has increased over the past two years as concerns mount for China’s annexation of the self-ruled island.
The Voice of America (VOA) wrote, as of December 31, 2020, the US had a military presence of only 20 personnel in Taiwan, which has now increased to 30.
According to the Pentagon’s Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC), of these 30 military personnel, three are from the Army, two from the Navy, 20 from the Marine Corps, five from the Air Force/Space Force.
Their presence was confirmed by Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen in October 2021, although neither US nor Taiwanese officials at the time confirmed what US personnel were doing on the island, but it is believed that Soldiers were kept there for training purposes.
There are also several US military assets operating in the area, including Nimitz-class nuclear-powered supercarriers. USS Ronald Reaganamong other ships.
According to the DMDC, with more than 55,000 troops stationed in the East Asian nation, Japan has America’s largest military presence outside the country.
The US Army Japan (USFJ), with elements from its Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Forces, also employs 25,000 Japanese workers on top of 45,000 enlistees, 8,000 Department of Defense (DOD) civilian and contractor employees, and 54,000 soldiers.
US forces are stationed in Japan pursuant to the 1960 US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security.
America: South Korea
The US has more than 25,000 troops stationed in South Korea, a remnant of the 1950 Korean War that ended in an armistice between South and North Korea.
These troops—the US Army of Korea (USFK)—represent America’s third largest military presence outside its borders, after Japan and Germany.
25,687 among Army soldiers (17,190), airmen and women (7,941), Navy sailors (337), marines (257) and coast guards (one) About 90 fighter aircraft, 40 attack helicopters, 50 tanks and 60 Patriot missile launchers operate. According to Reuters,
China: South China Sea
Beijing is said to be in the process of modernizing its military and expanding its presence in the South China Sea, which last year completely militarized at least three of the many artificially created islands in the region.
As Admiral John Aquilino told the Associated Press (AP), these bases in the Spratly Islands are equipped with anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles as well as fighter jets, lasers and jamming equipment.
This year, reports of Beijing secretly building a naval base in Cambodia for military use have been widely covered by the news media, including Washington PostBut both China and Cambodia have strongly denied this.
What’s on the table for a potential Pelosi visit?
In the case of Pelosi going to Taiwan, US officials told the AP that the military has a contingency plan, which includes increasing the movement of its forces and assets in the Indo-Pacific.
Although officials did not give details about the plan, they said fighter jets, ships, surveillance assets and other military systems would be used to protect the House speaker during his visit to Taiwan.
On the other hand, it is unclear how China will react to a possible Pelosi visit to Taiwan, as it has not specified what its “strong retaliatory steps” will be.
In the process of modernizing its military, which Beijing aims to achieve by 2035, China has expanded its military spending in recent years, funding the development and improvement of its navy and the development of its arsenal.
With more than two million active personnel, including more than 915,000 active-duty soldiers—China is currently the largest fighting force in the world, according to the latest Pentagon China Military Strength Report.
China’s military has been stocking high-tech weapons in its arsenal over the years, including the DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missile that surfaced at the 2019 National Day military parade. This year, it was rumored that Beijing was testing hypersonic weapons.
The country also claims to have the largest navy in the world—but not the most powerful. China’s military ships, although outnumbered by the US, are much smaller than American warships.
The US can also count on 11 aircraft carriers compared to China’s three, and the country also counts more nuclear-powered submarines, cruisers and destroyers than China.
While it is impossible to know whether China may move against Taiwan any time soon, concerns over the country’s military potential and its aggressive stance against the region which it claims have increased significantly in recent years, And it’s not likely to disappear any time soon.