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Taiwan Military Drills: Defending Against Chinese Invasion | World News – Times of India

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TAIWAN: Almost every day, Chinese warships sail in waters around Taiwan and warplanes fly toward the island before turning back. What if they suddenly attacked?
Taiwan’s military conducted a two-day exercise at sea, on land and in the air this week to practice defending against such a surprise attack. As journalists looked on from fast escort boats, a mine layer released at least a half dozen dummy mines from a chute in its stern.
Maj. Gen. Sun Li-fang, the chief defense ministry spokesperson, told reporters at Zuoying Naval Base in southern Taiwan that China’s recent actions threaten to spark a conflict that could have devastating effects on the entire region, where billions of dollars in trade pass the 160 kilometer- (100 mile)-wide waterway separating Taiwan from China.
“Any unilateral irrational action could very easily escalate tensions and sabotage stability in the Taiwan Strait region,” Sun said. “So the Chinese Communists should immediately cease these sorts of undermining actions.”
China claims the self-governing island of 23 million people as its own territory and says it must come under Beijing’s control. The long-running divide is a flashpoint in U.S.-China relations. As relations between the rivals have deteriorated in recent years, fears have grown that America could get pulled into a war if hostilities break out.
Later in the day, journalists witnessed a simulated attack by China at a military base in the eastern county of Taitung.
Troops in red helmets representing the People’s Liberation Army parachuted in, while Taiwanese army drones buzzed overhead. Taiwanese troops soon rolled onto the training course, fighting back with M60 Patton tanks, a model first introduced to the U.S. Army in 1959 but significantly upgraded by Taiwan. Taiwan is gradually replacing some of them with M1 Abrams tanks and the HIMARS rocket system, which the U.S. has also supplied to Ukraine.
Taiwan’s defense ministry, in a daily report, said that seven Chinese warplanes and four naval vessels were detected around the island in the 24-hour period ending at 6 a.m. on Wednesday. It also reported a Chinese balloon off its northern coast.
A Chinese government spokesperson criticized Taiwan’s government for “creating political hype” about recent balloon sightings. Chen Binhua from the Taiwan Affairs Office said that balloons are common around the world, usually belong to private companies and are mostly used for civilian purposes such as weather monitoring.
“They have been around for a long time and are nothing new,” he said Wednesday according to a transcript of a regular briefing in Beijing.
The annual exercise comes less than three weeks after voters elected Lai Ching-te as their next president, giving a third straight four-year term to the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, which is opposed by China.
The drills are aimed in part at boosting public confidence in the island’s ability to defend itself, particularly during next month’s Lunar New Year holiday.
“I wish to assure all our people that our forces remain at their posts during the Lunar New Year to guard the nation to allow the people of Taiwan to rest assured that they will have a peaceful holiday,” Maj. Gen. Tan Yung, the head of the Taitung Defense Command, told reporters. Along with live firing exercises, such simulations are an important facet of training, Tan said.
Taiwan also uses such drills, and the press tours that often accompany them, to burnish the image of the armed forces, which has difficulty recruiting and relies heavily on conscripts.
Capt. Huang Chin-ya, one of several dozen soldiers who took part in the drill, seemed to touch on both issues in her remarks.
“By this exercise, I proudly believe that citizens can realize there are always soldiers protecting our beautiful homeland,” she said.
While its military is dwarfed by China’s, Taiwan has been buying high-tech weaponry from the United States, revitalized its domestic arms industry and extended the length of mandatory military service from four months to one year.
In another sign of the tensions across the Taiwan Strait, the island’s government protested Tuesday after China’s aviation authority announced changes to a southbound route for passenger flights that is expected to bring planes closer to Taiwan’s shores.
Taiwan first objected to the flight path when it was opened in 2015, citing air safety and sovereignty concerns, and China agreed to move the route seven miles (11 kilometers) closer to its side. But China’s Civil Aviation Administration said it would cancel the “offset measure” starting Thursday.
China also said that planes would be allowed to join the flight path from two coastal cities across from Taiwan. Previously, planes were allowed to use the flight path to reach those cities, but could not join it from them, which entails flying toward Taiwan.
Taiwan’s Civil Aviation Administration strongly protested the move, which it said “blatantly contradicts a consensus reached between both sides … in 2015,” according to Taiwanese media.
A Chinese government spokesperson called the changes routine and said they were meant to ease air traffic and ensure flight safety in a crowded flight corridor.





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