Taiwan's military is firing off more than one hundred missiles in a series of live-fire exercises as the Chinese military drills nearby, Taiwan's Central News Agency reports.
During the two-day drill that began on Monday, Taiwan's military will launch 117 missiles, among which are 12 different weapon types with ranges far enough to clear the Taiwan Strait, a strategic waterway that is only 81 miles wide at its narrowest section.
Forty-one missiles were fired off on Monday, CNA reports, citing Ministry of National Defense Deputy Chief of Staff Li Chao-ming.
That same day, Taiwan's F-16 fighters practiced striking landing ships with AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles, exercises crucial to defending their island should Beijing ever decide to invade.
These drills come as China conducts its own military exercises at both ends of the closely-watched Taiwan Strait.
Taiwan's navy launch a surface-to-air SM-2 missile from a Kidd class destroyer during the Hai-Biao (Sea Dart) annual exercises off the northeastern coast of Taiwan, September 26, 2013(Associated Press photo)
An area off the coast of Guangdong and Fujian provinces was blocked off from Monday to Friday for military activities in the South China Sea while an area off the coast of Zhejiang province was marked off for military exercises in the East China Sea from Saturday to Thursday, two local Chinese maritime safety administration notices announced.
Details on the drills were limited, but Chinese military analysts told the South China Morning Post these exercises are intended to demonstrate China's resolve in response to the regular Taiwan Strait transits by the U.S. Navy and a $2.2 billion arms sale to Taiwan.
In its latest defense white paper, the first in four years, China firmly restated its longstanding positions sharply criticized not only U.S. arms sales to Taiwan to give it the ability to “maintain a credible defensive capability” and frequent Taiwan Strait transits by U.S. warships, but also regular freedom-of-navigation operations and bomber overflights in the South China Sea.
“China,” the report explained, “resolutely opposes the wrong practices and provocative activities of the U.S. side regarding arms sales to Taiwan, … illegal entry into China's territorial waters and maritime and air spaces near relevant islands and reefs, and wide-range and frequent close-in reconnaissance.”
On Taiwan specifically, the white paper reiterated that China will not renounce the use of force as a means of achieving reunification with Taiwan, a self-ruled democracy perceived by the communist government in Beijing as a separatist province.
“The national army continues to reinforce its key defense capacity and is definitely confident and capable of defending the nation's security,” Taiwan's defense ministry said Monday in response to China's latest military exercises.
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