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James Stavridis

U.S. Troops and Chinese Planes Push Taiwan Closer to Crisis

Does the presence of American military trainers mean Washington is getting closer to a security guarantee for the island?

Can Taiwan forces keep China at bay?

Can Taiwan forces keep China at bay?

Photographer: Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images

When I was fresh out of the U.S. Naval Academy in the mid-1970s, I was assigned to a destroyer that was preparing for a deployment to the western Pacific. Among many planned calls, one stood out: Keelung , at the northern tip of the island of Taiwan. It had a reputation as a welcoming port for navy warships — in those days, the U.S. flag was often seen on destroyers and cruisers sailing in and out of Taiwan’s harbors.

Suddenly our schedule changed, and visits to Taiwan — both to Keelung and to Kaohsiung, the island’s largest port — were abruptly canceled. Instead, we headed to the Philippines and Hong Kong, then a British crown colony. We were surprised and disappointed but sensed that a big geopolitical wind had blown through east Asia.