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'Very Concerning': US Troops in Taiwan as America's Top General Calls Chinese Hypersonic Missile a 'Sputnik Moment'


Taiwan's president says the threat from China grows "every day" and confirmed for the first time the presence of U.S. troops on the island. 

A small number of American troops are there to help train their Taiwanese counterparts.

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen said in an interview with CNN that aired Thursday that she was confident the U.S. would defend Taiwan if China made a move against the island.

"I do have faith given the long-term relationship we have with the U.S. and also the support of the people of the U.S. as well as Congress," Tsai said.

But the presence of U.S. troops in Taiwan is not the only alarming revelation when it comes to a potential conflict with China. 

The communist country also recently test-launched a hypersonic weapon capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

In an interview with Bloomberg News this week, America's top general compared the hypersonic weaponry, which the U.S. cannot detect or defeat, to the launch of the game-changing Soviet Sputnik satellite that gave the USSR an edge in the space race in 1957. 

"What we saw was a very significant event of a test of a hypersonic weapon system. And it is very concerning," Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said. "I don't know if it's quite a Sputnik moment, but I think it's very close to that. It has all of our attention." 

He added the new weapon is "an enormous change in the character of war."

Milley was the first Pentagon official to confirm on the record the nature of a test this year by the Chinese military that the Financial Times had reported was a nuclear-capable hypersonic weapon that was launched into space and orbited the Earth before re-entering the atmosphere and gliding toward its target in China.
Milley said he could not discuss details because aspects involved classified intelligence. He said the United States also is working on hypersonic weapons, whose key features include flight trajectory, speed and maneuverability that make them capable of evading early warning systems that are part of missile defenses. 

The U.S. has not conducted a hypersonic weapon test of the sort Milley said China had achieved.

China has disputed Western news reports about its test, saying it was working on technology for a re-useable space vehicle for peaceful purposes.

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby declined to comment on the test or on Milley's remarks beyond saying that China's work on advanced hypersonic weaponry is among a "suite of issues" that cause the Biden administration to be concerned by "the trajectory of where things are going in the Indo-Pacific."

Asked about progress on U.S. hypersonic weapon technologies, Kirby said it "is real, it's tangible, and we are absolutely working toward being able to develop that capability." He declined to provide specifics.

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