“Declaration of war on China” – U.S. senator causes irritation with tweet on U.S. troops in Taiwan

John Cornyn has been a U.S. senator for almost 20 years, and the Republican still sits on the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee. His tweet, according to which “30,000 U.S. troops are stationed on the island of Taiwan,” would be tantamount to a “declaration of war on China,” according to the Beijing newspaper Global Times.

A Republican U.S. senator has caused confusion and irritation not only on the Internet with his claim that 30,000 U.S. troops are currently stationed in Taiwan.

The state-affiliated Beijing newspaper Global Times also reacted and spoke of a “declaration of war on China” if the claim were true. The Global Times, citing Chinese experts, warned in view of this possible revelation by the U.S. politician:

“If the tweet is true, it is a military invasion and occupation of China’s Taiwan and tantamount to a U.S. declaration of war on China. China could immediately activate its anti-secession law to destroy and expel U.S. troops in Taiwan and militarily reunify Taiwan.”

Cornyn had written in the tweet, which has since been deleted but is photographed in the article:

U.S. troops today in: South Korea – 28,000 Germany – 35,486 Japan – 50,000 Taiwan – 30,000 Africa – 7,000 Afghanistan (a month or two ago) – 2,500 – Senator John Cornyn (@JohnCornyn) August 16, 2021

While the Republican’s comment that there were only 2,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan “a month or two ago” appeared to imply that a small U.S. presence would have maintained stability in the war-torn country, many users responded with questions and offers of correction to the claim regarding U.S. troops in Taiwan: “How come the U.S. still has troops in Taiwan? “, “So the U.S. Army has a secret division in Taiwan,” “Cornyn must have gotten the numbers wrong,” and “That would have to have been before 1979.” Beijing and Washington established diplomatic relations in 1979 on the condition that the U.S. withdraw its military from the island.

But alarm bells rang for some, especially in Beijing. Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the Global Times, directly demanded an explanation from the U.S. and Taiwanese authorities via Twitter:

“If it is true that the U.S. has 30,000 or less troops stationed on the island of Taiwan, the Chinese armed forces will immediately start a war to eliminate and expel the U.S. soldiers,” Hu wrote, sharing an image of Cornyn’s tweet.

The Taiwanese island’s Defense Ministry denied the tweet Tuesday, saying it was false and would not comment, Taiwanese media outlet SETN.com reported. Taiwan’s opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party pointed out to the Republican senator that the last U.S. troops had left the island nation on May 3, 1979.

Other commentators were much more shocked at the ignorance as well as the false and negligent claim by Cornyn, who, as a member of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, should be aware of both the correct numbers of U.S. soldiers abroad and the consequences of making a claim about them.

As a senior Senator for Texas who was once Republican Majority Leader in the 114th and 115th Congresses. Congress and is now a member of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, Cornyn should be aware of U.S. government military intelligence, the Global Times said, where a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the Chinese University of Foreign Affairs, Li Haidong, was also quoted as saying such ridiculous and shocking news was more likely due to the senator’s advanced age making him a fool or his confusing the data with earlier data from the 1970s or 1960s. But, he said, it must be admitted that there are also some U.S. senators who falsify data to further their political careers. Whether it was a mistake or hype, the U.S. politician lacked political sensitivity and made irresponsible comments in public, which Li said was shocking.

Chinese military expert and television commentator Song Zhongping was quoted by the Global Times as saying after Cornyn’s claim: “I wouldn’t believe this is really the case.” According to the report, the U.S. could not hide 30,000 troops and their equipment on the island, nor would it be too high a risk.

U.S. TV host Mehdi Hasan asked on Twitter if the numerous users who had expressed outrage at Democrat Rashida Tlaib for confusing “Taliban” with “mujahideen” also had anything to say about the Republican’s notion that 30,000 U.S. troops were stationed in Taiwan. Charlotte Clymer, Army veteran and author from Texas, explained via Twitter that no U.S. troops have been stationed in Taiwan for over four decades, but this man is a member of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee. “Also, Africa is not a country,” she added. Political commentators also chimed in on Cornyn’s tweet.

Political analyst Seth Masket asked if Cornyn was referring to the U.S. Defense Command for Taiwan, which was disbanded four decades ago.

Others insinuated Cornyn had Googled for U.S. troops in Taiwan, but only half-heartedly. One person, who shared images from a Google search, urged the senator to also click on the article at Wikipedia to read the full text.

American author and pastor John Pavlovitz commented that Cornyn was “bad at it,” while analyst and international relations professor Robert E. Kelly even seemed to doubt the senator’s fitness for office:

“Thirty thousand troops in Taiwan… Good grief. Dude, retire.”

The Global Times editor-in-chief addressed reactions that the U.S. senator must have gotten the numbers wrong, writing that he did not assume the senator was mistaken, but that Cornyn wanted to test the Chinese response. “My response to him is war,” Hu Xijin said as recently as Tuesday.

On the same day, the Chinese military conducted attack drills near Taiwan. Warships and fighter jets practiced off the island’s southwest and southeast, in what the country’s armed forces called a response to “outside interference” and “provocations.”