Taiwan Navy Holds Drill Amid Tensions 05/22 06:18
HUALIEN, Taiwan (AP) -- Taiwan's navy held a major live-fire exercise
Wednesday off the island's east coast in an area increasingly threatened by
Chinese ships and planes.
The drills are part of annual Han Kuang exercises that simulate an attack by
China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory to be annexed by force if
Navy craft fired cannons and missiles and released depth charges, while
fighter jets launched munitions and anti-submarine warfare aircraft released
Submarines, along with a vast array of ballistic missiles, are considered
among China's most potent weapons against Taiwan, which split from the mainland
during a civil war in 1949.
China has boosted its military threat against Taiwan, with President Xi
Jinping saying this year that Beijing would not rule out using force. That
comes on top of growing Chinese pressure to isolate Taiwan in the international
community and inflict economic pain, largely to force independence-leaning
President Tsai Ing-wen to agree to Beijing's contention that Taiwan is a part
Stepped-up Chinese operations have included sending ships to nearby waters
and warplanes to circle the island on what Beijing calls training missions.
While China would need to send thousands of troops across the Taiwan Strait to
effect an invasion, Beijing military planners are also believed to be
considering a form of lightning strike that could quickly devastate the
island's ability to resist and force it to capitulate before its chief ally,
the United States, could come to its aid.
Taiwan's lightly populated east coast is home to a key air base and other
important military installations.
"We will conduct military exercises regularly at the location where we think
the war could be possibly happening," navy Capt. Soong Shu-kou told reporters.
"The waters off Taiwan's eastern coast are the important area where we need
to conduct military drills often. Because this area could be a significant
battle ground in the future," he said.
Defense ministry spokesman Chen Jung-ji said Taiwan was accelerating the
pace of training as a way of deterring Chinese aggression.
"We can only depend on ourselves to defend our own country. We will conduct
more training to strengthen our combat capabilities in the face of the ongoing
military threats" from China, Chen said.