Taiwan launches spring military drills amid China threats

Pingtung, Taiwan: Taiwan is holding spring military drills following its recent presidential election and amid threats from China, which claims the island as its own territory that it is determined to annex, possibly by force.

China has maintained military, diplomatic and economic pressure on Taiwan following the Jan. 13 election that returned the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party to a third consecutive four-year term in the presidency, this time with current Vice President Lai Ching-te at the top of the ticket.

China, which strongly opposes any moves by Taiwan toward formal independence, has been sending warplanes and navy ships on a near daily basis in the waters and airspace around the island.

However, pilots at 6th Composite Wing in Pingtung said they very rarely encounter Beijing’s People’s Liberation Army during their missions. Taiwan’s standard response is to scramble fighter jets, put missile launch sites on an alert and send its own navy ships to investigate when China’s forces encroach.

The annual drills are also aimed at boosting public confidence in the island’s ability to defend itself ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, which this year begins on Feb. 10 and each year sees travel by millions to their hometowns on the island and vacationing abroad.

“We have completed the relevant training and we can definitely cope with various possible situations. We will carry out our mission in accordance with the instructions of the Ministry of Defense and the Air Force Command Headquarters,” Major Tsai Tsung-Yu, a P-3 pilot, told reporters at the base.

Image courtesy of X

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