HSINCHU (Taiwan) • Taiwan has staged a live-fire anti-landing drill simulating an invasion by China as President Ma Ying-jeou pledged to maintain a battle-ready force while seeking peace with Beijing.
The drill came ahead of three days of live-fire drills to be conducted by the Chinese military in the Taiwan Strait starting from today.
Taiwan's drill yesterday, presided over by Mr Ma, was part of this year's annual military wargames codenamed "Han Kuang 31" (Han Glory) designed to test how Taiwan's armed forces would repel an attack from China.
"Although cross-strait ties are the most stable over the past 66 years, the Republic of China (Taiwan) has by no means slackened its military preparedness," Mr Ma told some 800 servicemen involved in the drill at a gathering in a military base in northern Hsinchu county.
"We want to prevent wars but we're not afraid of fighting... While serving as a peace maker, we also want to operate solid and self-sufficient forces," he added.
SOLID AND SELF-SUFFICIENT FORCES
Although cross-Strait ties are the most stable over the past 66 years, the Republic of China (Taiwan) has by no means slackened its military preparedness. We want to prevent wars but we're not afraid of fighting... While serving as a peace maker, we also want to operate solid and self-sufficient forces.
TAIWAN PRESIDENT MA YING-JEOU, on maintaining a battle-ready force while seeking peace with Beijing
Taiwan's five-day war games, which started on Monday, come after China demonstrated its growing might during a parade on Sept 3 to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.
China and Taiwan split in 1949 at the end of a civil war, and Beijing has never renounced the use of force to reunify the island with the mainland.
According to a report Taiwan's defence ministry sent to Parliament last month, China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) has increased the number of ballistic and cruise missiles targeting the island.
Yesterday's war game simulated a response to a Chinese invasion in which a fleet of enemy ships approached a harbour close to Hsinchu Science-based Industrial Park, the island's answer to the Silicon Valley in the United States.
Television footage showed jet fighters releasing flares, attack helicopters launching rockets, and marines landing from amphibious vessels in another live-fire exercise held in the south yesterday.
The ongoing series of drills also took place earlier this week in Kinmen, a Taiwan-controlled outlying island group near China's south-east Xiamen city.
China's Maritime Safety Administration, in a brief statement yesterday, gave coordinates just off the coast of the Chinese port city of Quanzhou for the PLA's live-fire drills, which will end on Sunday. It gave no other details.
Quanzhou lies between two small groups of islands, Kinmen and Wu-chiu.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS