Taiwan stages military drills as China sanctions US officials

Drills aimed at repelling a potential Chinese attack come as Beijing announced sanctions on US officials for ‘nasty behaviour’ over Taiwan.

Taiwanese troops using tanks, mortars and small arms have staged a drill aimed at repelling an attack from China, which has increased its threats to reclaim the island and stepped up its own 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 on Tuesday.

The drills at the Hukou Army Base, south of the capital, Taipei, were intended as a show of Taiwan’s determination to maintain peace between the sides through a show of force, said Chen.

They are also meant to reassure the public the military is maintaining its guard before next month’s Lunar New Year festival when many soldiers take leave.

China considers the democratically-governed island, which lies 160km (100 miles) off its southeast coast, as part of its territory.

But President Tsai Ing-wen, who was re-elected in January 2020, has firmly rejected Beijing’s claim, leading it to stage war games and dispatch fighter jets and reconnaissance planes on an almost daily basis towards Taiwan in recent months. Analysts say the “grey-zone” warfare tactics are aimed at exhausting the Taiwanese military.

Tsai has sought to bolster the island’s defences by launching a programme to build new submarines and buying billions of dollars of weapons from the United States, including upgraded F-16 fighter jets, armed drones, rocket systems and Harpoon missiles capable of hitting both sea and land targets.

Washington stepped up support for Taiwan as its ties with Beijing worsened last year, including record arms sales, visits by high-ranking officials and an end to decades-long restrictions on exchanges between US and Taiwanese officials.

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