PINGTUNG (Taiwan) • Taiwan's air, sea and land forces conducted a drill to repel an invading force yesterday, as its defence minister pledged to defend the self-ruled island against China's rising military threat.
Fighter jets launched strikes and warships opened fire on an enemy beachhead in a drill involving over 3,000 soldiers in Pingtung county in southern Taiwan.
During annual military exercises across the island this week, fighter jets landed on Taiwan's main highway and air raid drills shut its major cities.
While it was just an exercise, Defence Minister Yen Teh-fa left no doubt where the greatest perceived threat lay. "The military force of the Chinese Communist Party has continued to expand, without giving up the use of force to invade Taiwan," he told reporters.
China sees Taiwan as part of "one China" and has never renounced the use of force to bring the democratic island under its control. Mr Yen's comments follow a spike in cross-strait tensions.
In recent months, China's military staged drills with warships, bombers and reconnaissance aircraft near the island, moves denounced by Taipei as intimidation.
China has increased pressure on Taiwan, suspecting President Tsai Ing-wen of pushing for its formal independence - a red line for Beijing. Ms Tsai repeatedly says she wants to maintain the status quo with China but will defend Taiwan's security and democracy.