Taiwan holds military drills following polls

Taiwan's Amphibious Search Team in a military exercise in Kaohsiung yesterday. Even in non-election years, such drills are held in mid-winter to show the military's preparedness to defend Taiwan over Chinese New Year. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS
Taiwan's Amphibious Search Team in a military exercise in Kaohsiung yesterday. Even in non-election years, such drills are held in mid-winter to show the military's preparedness to defend Taiwan over Chinese New Year. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

KAOHSIUNG • Taiwanese marines staged drills yesterday as part of a series of military exercises following the re-election of pro-independence President Tsai Ing-wen.

The exercises focused on neutralising threats from small groups of assailants through small arms fire and hand-to-hand fighting. As in all such drills, the assumed enemy is the military of China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory to be brought under its control by force if need be.

A spokesman for the Chinese Cabinet's Taiwan Affairs Office reiterated that threat yesterday in response to remarks by Ms Tsai to the BBC that Taiwan had no reason to declare independence because it is already a sovereign nation. Officially known as the Republic of China, Taiwan split from the mainland during a civil war in 1949.

"Taiwan is a sacred and inseparable part of China," spokesman Ma Xiaoguang said in a statement.

"Our determination to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity is rock-solid and we will not permit any person, any organisation, any political party, at any time, by any method to break away any part of China," he added.

Other exercises earlier in the week featured Taiwan's air force, which is undergoing a major upgrade with the acquisition of the latest version of US F-16 fighters and other advanced technology.

Despite the lack of formal diplomatic ties, United States law requires Washington to ensure Taiwan has the means to defend itself.

Ms Tsai was re-elected Taiwan's President by a landslide last Saturday in a victory that signalled strong support for her tough stance against China.

Even in non-election years, Taiwan's military generally holds exercises in mid-winter to show its preparedness to defend the island over the Chinese New Year period, which this year begins on Jan 25.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 17, 2020, with the headline 'Taiwan holds military drills following polls'. Subscribe