Image copyright AFP Image caption President Tsai Ing-wen visited a Taiwanese military base before an interview
Taiwan’s President, Tsai Ing-wen, has confirmed that US military trainers and advisers are on the island as part of a bilateral plan to have the military upgrade from reserve to active status.
She said the US had asked to have the training on the island as a matter of reciprocity.
Ms Tsai made the comment as she addressed an audience of the Global Taiwan Business Conference in New York.
The use of US military personnel on the island raises concerns for China, which considers Taiwan to be a renegade province, as well as relations with US President Donald Trump.
In an interview with the BBC’s The World Tonight programme last week, Chinese president Xi Jinping said China was “constantly planning and mobilising our military” in the Pacific and that America should be concerned.
Image copyright AFP Image caption US President Donald Trump pledged to protect Taiwan during his election campaign
The United States has an alliance with Taiwan, and it is widely assumed that an invasion would be swiftly defeated.
However, in 2016 the US reaffirmed its commitment to its security alliance with Taiwan by visiting the island’s military academy.
In recent years Taiwan’s military has also been strengthened with help from the US, including help with acquiring four F-16 fighter jets.
The BBC’s David Wroe interviewed Ms Tsai at the Global Taiwan Business Conference.
“There is a military-to-military exchange programme of trainers and advisers to help our armed forces develop,” she said.
“I’m familiar with the (US) response, and it is a matter of reciprocity. I had expected that they would build this facility, but we have agreed with them to initiate the discussions and construction this year.”
Ms Tsai said that the Taiwanese side had always respected any US request to use the air force facilities on the island for such training as part of the aim of strengthening military cooperation between the two countries.
She said any assistance was in line with US President Donald Trump’s commitment to defend Taiwan, as well as an “important part of overall defence and security co-operation”.
Ms Tsai would not confirm any timeframe on the scheduled construction of the Taiwanese training facility in the territory, or when US officials would be touring the base.
It is believed that the US Air Force is set to conclude a memorandum of understanding with Taiwan this year, laying out the way for future cooperation in the field of training.