Taiwan holds military drills to defend against any surprise invasion

Taiwan’s military conducted a two-day exercise at sea, on land and in the air this week to practice defending against such a surprise attack.

Notably, a mine layer released at least a half dozen dummy mines from a chute in its stern.

Maj. Gen. Sun Li-fang, the chief defense ministry spokesperson, told reporters at Zuoying Naval Base in southern Taiwan that China’s recent actions threaten to spark a conflict that could have devastating effects on the entire region, where billions of dollars in trade pass the 160 kilometer- (100 mile)-wide waterway separating Taiwan from China.

China claims the self-governing island of 23 million people as its own territory and says it must come under Beijing’s control.

The long-running divide is a flashpoint in US-China relations.

As relations between the rivals have deteriorated in recent years, fears have grown that America could get pulled into a war if hostilities break out.

Later in the day, a simulated attack by China at a military base in the eastern county of Taitung.

Troops in red helmets representing the People’s Liberation Army parachuted in, while Taiwanese army drones buzzed overhead.

Taiwanese troops soon rolled onto the training course, fighting back with M60 Patton tanks, a model first introduced to the US Army in 1959 but significantly upgraded by Taiwan.

Noteworthy, Taiwan is gradually replacing some of them with M1 Abrams tanks and the HIMARS rocket system that has been so effective Ukraine.

As per Taiwan’s defense ministry, seven Chinese warplanes and four naval vessels were detected around the island last week.

It also reported a Chinese balloon off its northern coast.

The annual exercise comes less than three weeks after voters elected Lai Ching-te as their next president, giving a third straight four-year term to the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, which is opposed by China.

The drills are aimed in part at boosting public confidence in the island’s ability to defend itself, particularly during next month’s Lunar New Year holiday.

While its military is dwarfed by China’s, Taiwan has been buying high-tech weaponry from the US, revitalized its domestic arms industry and extended the length of mandatory military service from four months to one year.

In another sign of the tensions across the Taiwan Strait, the island’s government protested after China’s aviation authority announced changes to a southbound route for passenger flights that is expected to bring planes closer to Taiwan’s shores.

Taiwan first objected to the flight path when it was opened in 2015, citing air safety and sovereignty concerns, and China agreed to move the route seven miles (11 kilometers) closer to its side.

But China’s Civil Aviation Administration said it would cancel the “offset measure”.

China also said that planes would be allowed to join the flight path from two coastal cities across from Taiwan.

Previously, planes were allowed to use the flight path to reach those cities, across from Taiwan.

Further, earlier planes were allowed to use the flight path to reach those cities, but could not join it from them, which entails flying toward Taiwan.

Taiwan’s Civil Aviation Administration strongly protested the move, which it said “blatantly contradicts a consensus reached between both sides … in 2015,” according to Taiwanese media.

A Chinese government spokesperson called the changes routine and said they were meant to ease air traffic and ensure flight safety in a crowded flight corridor.

Source:  https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/taiwan-holds-military-drills-to-defend-against-the-threat-of-a-chinese-invasion/articleshow/107294618.cms