30,000 Troops in Taiwan? No, This U.S. Senator Made a Twitter Mistake

August 17, 2021 Topic: Taiwan Military Region: Americas Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: John CornynChinaTaiwanTroopsPoliticsJohn Cornyn Taiwan

30,000 Troops in Taiwan? No, This U.S. Senator Made a Twitter Mistake

Chinese state media has been having a bit of fun at Cornyn’s expense.  

There have been quite a few instances in recent years of well-known people having to apologize for incorrect or imprecise statements about Taiwan. Earlier this year, actor John Cena apologized—in Mandarin—after he had referred to Taiwan as a country while promoting the latest Fast and the Furious movie.  

“I’m really sorry. You have to understand that I love and respect China,” Cena, the professional wrestler-turned-movie star, said in the video, which was posted to the Chinese social network Weibo. Then heavy implication was that Cena was seeking to maintain his and his movie’s box office clout in China, which has emerged as an important market for the movie business.  

Now, there has been another kerfuffle involving a tweet about Taiwan and this time it comes from a United States senator.  

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) on Monday sent a tweet, which was meant to react to the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, and the subsequent takeover of that country by the Taliban. Implicitly arguing that the United States should have kept a troop presence there, Cornyn listed the number of U.S. troops currently in several countries and territories. He said that there were twenty-eight thousand troops in South Korea, a little more than thirty-five thousand troops in Germany, fifty thousand troops in Japan, thirty thousand troops in Taiwan, seven thousand troops in Africa, and twenty-five hundred troops in  Afghanistan. 

As many pointed out, that is wrong. The United States does not have thirty thousand troops in Taiwan. That would imply that the United States has a military base in Taiwan, which it does not. Defense Department officials recently that the United States had thirty personnel in the territory, but Cornyn appears to have multiplied that number. 

Cornyn, or his staff, has since deleted the tweet, but it has been screengrabbed by many, including CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale. Dale also noted that the U.S. had a force of thirty thousand troops in Taiwan between the 1950s and 1970s, and speculated that Cornyn “mistakenly added the 000 or mistakenly pulled from a Wiki page about the situation decades ago.” 

Dale also wrote that Chinese state media has been “having some fun with Cornyn’s tweet.”  

“As a senior senator from Texas, who was once a Republican Senate Majority Whip for the 114th and 115th Congresses, and now a member of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Cornyn should be aware of the US government’s military intelligence,” according to the Global Times.

“Thus, the possibility that the US is hiding 30,000 troops in China’s Taiwan island cannot be ruled out, and there is a probability the secret was accidentally spilled out by this senior US politician,” the Chinese-backed news organization observed said. “As we know, the US has maintained military communications with China’s Taiwan including weapon sales and military trainings.”  

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for the National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly VoicePhiladelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic AgencyLiving Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver. 

Image: Reuters