On August 17th, China held live fire maritime drills near Taiwan in response to “provocations”.
The reason for the “assault drills”, according to Beijin was an “external interference and provocations by Taiwan independence forces”.
According to a statement from Col Shi Yi, the spokesperson of the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) Eastern Theatre Command, warships, anti-submarine aircraft and fighter planes were dispatched to the south-west and south-east of Taiwan on August 17th.
In response, Taiwan’s defense ministry said:
“The nation’s military has a full grasp and has made a full assessment of the situation in the Taiwan strait region, as well as related developments at sea and in the air, and is prepared for various responses.”
Taiwanese defence commentator, Wang Zhen Ming, said Taiwan was in some ways becoming numb to the frequent drills and incursions.
“This is good and bad … China’s military drills don’t really have an effect on Taiwan, but from the bad side, and this may also be the purpose of PLA, Taiwan can lower its guard with the frequency.”
The PLA statement said the US and Taiwan had “repeatedly provoked and sent serious wrong signals, severely infringed upon China’s sovereignty, and severely undermined the peace and stability of the Taiwan strait, which has become the biggest source of security risks across the Taiwan strait”.
“This exercise … is a solemn response to external interference and provocations by Taiwan independence forces,” it said.
The state-owned Global Times, said the departure of US forces from Afghanistan was a lesson for Ms Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
“They must have been nervous and feel an ominous presentiment. They must have known better in secret that the US is not reliable,” the nationalist paper said.
The editorial said the DPP needs “to keep a sober head, and the secessionist forces should reserve the ability to wake up from their dreams”.
“From what happened in Afghanistan, they should perceive that once a war breaks out in the (Taiwan) Strait, the island’s defense will collapse in hours and the US military won’t come to help.”
In response, Taiwan would not collapse like Afghanistan in the event of an attack, Premier Su Tseng-chang said.
Asked whether the president or premier would flee if “the enemy was at the gates” like in Afghanistan, Su said people had feared neither arrest nor death when Taiwan was a dictatorship under martial law from 1949 to 1987.
“Today, there are powerful countries that want to swallow up Taiwan using force, and likewise we are also not afraid of being killed or imprisoned,” he said.
“We must guard this country and this land, and not be like certain people who always talk up the enemy’s prestige and talk down our resolve,” Su added.
Meanwhile, President Tsai Ing-wen is overseeing an ambitious military modernisation programme to bolster the domestic arms industry and make Taiwan a “porcupine” equipped with advanced, highly mobile weapons to make a Chinese invasion as difficult as possible.
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