President Tsai Ing-wen attends a Taiwanese Air Force fighter jets take-off and landing drill in Pingtung, Taiwan, September 15, 2021. (Taiwan Military Defense/Handout via Reuters)

Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen confirmed that American soldiers are stationed in the country, in an interview with CNN released on Thursday.

“Yes, we have a wide range of cooperation with the U.S. aimed at increasing our defense capability,” Tsai said when asked if U.S. troops were involved with training Taiwanese soldiers.

However, when asked how many U.S. troops are stationed in Taiwan, Tsai answered “not as many as people thought.”

Tsai also addressed rising tensions with China, saying the threat from China is “increasing every day.”

“Here is this island of 23 million people trying hard every day to protect ourselves and protect our democracy and making sure that our people have the kind of freedom they deserve,” Tsai said. “If we fail, then that means people that believe in these values would doubt whether these are values that they [should] be fighting for.”

Tsai’s comments come several weeks after the Wall Street Journal reported that a U.S. special operations unit and group of Marines have been deployed to assist Taiwanese forces. President Biden said the U.S. has a “commitment” to help defend Taiwan at a CNN town hall last week, although a White House spokesperson later clarified that the U.S. relationship to Taiwan would be “guided by the Taiwan Relations Act” of 1979.

China’s air force executed its largest-ever incursion into Taiwanese air space earlier this month. China does not consider Taiwan to be an independent country, and Premier Xi Jinping has repeatedly called to unify Taiwan with the mainland.

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