Taiwan uses drill to show its military teeth

World | ASSOCIATED PRESS 20 Jan 2021

Taiwanese troops using tanks, mortars and small arms staged a drill yesterday aimed at repelling an attack from the mainland, which has increased its threats to take the island amid its displays of military might.

"No matter what is happening around the Taiwan Strait, our determination to guard our homeland will never change,'' Major General Chen Chong-ji, director of the Department of Political Warfare, said about the exercise at Hukou Army Base south of Taipei.

Chen said the exercise was intended as a show of Taiwan's determination to maintain peace between the sides through a show of force.

The drills are also meant to reassure Taiwan's 24 million people their military is maintaining its guard ahead of next month's Lunar New Year festival, when many troops take leave.

The Hukou base is in Hsinchu county, a center for high-tech industries that have thrived despite the threats of invasion.

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen has sought to bolster the island's defenses with the purchase of billions of US dollars in weapons from key ally the United States, including upgraded F-16 fighter aircraft, armed drones, rocket systems and Harpoon missiles capable of hitting ships and land targets.

She has also boosted support for the island's indigenous arms industry, including launching a program to build submarines to counter the mainland's increasing naval capabilities.

But Taiwan's military is dwarfed by that of the mainland.

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