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26 Mar, 2024 16:49

Taiwan runs defense drills amid invasion warning

Taipei says it will continue to intensify training and exercises in response to Beijing’s military activities near the island
Taiwan runs defense drills amid invasion warning

Taiwanese forces carried out air defense combat exercises on Tuesday in response to reports of increased military activity by Beijing's forces near the island, according to a statement published by Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense.

According to the Taiwanese air force,  “overall air defense combat plan exercises” were carried out in the early hours of Tuesday morning and employed the use of domestically-made Sky Bow and US-made Patriot surface-to-air missiles, in conjunction with aircraft and navy ships.

The Taiwanese command explained that the purpose of the drills was to “inspect and verify the joint air defense combat command and control of the three branches,” and stated that it will continue holding such exercises to “deal with potential threats.”

Beijing considers the self-governed island to be an inalienable part of China but has stated that it seeks peaceful reunification. However, it has warned that it would resort to military action if the US-backed Taipei administration attempts to declare independence.

Although Taiwan has governed itself since 1949, most of the international community, including the US, does not officially recognize it as a sovereign state.

Meanwhile, the island’s self-proclaimed government has repeatedly complained over the past few years that China’s military aircraft and navy ships have continued to intrude into Taiwan’s airspace and territorial waters. This as Washington warns of a potential Chinese offensive on the island in the coming years.

Last week, US Navy Admiral John Aquilino, who leads the US Indo-Pacific Command, claimed that China was developing plans for a ground invasion of Taiwan by 2027. Similar claims have also been made by CIA Director William Burns and other senior US officials.

However, Chinese officials, including President Xi Jinping, have denied having any near-term plans to use force against Taiwan. Chinese Foreign ministry Spokesman Lin Jian has dismissed the rumors as attempts by “some people in the US” to “hype up the China-threat narrative” and escalate tensions in the region.

At the same time, Beijing has insisted that Taiwan’s status is a domestic issue and has urged foreign governments not to interfere. Chinese officials have in particular criticized the US, which has repeatedly expressed support for the Taiwanese government, has concluded defense contracts with the island’s military, and has sent its high-ranking officials on official visits with local authorities.