Tai­wan warns of grow­ing threats from China’s ships

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

TA I P E I :

Tai­wan’s de­fense min­is­ter warned yesterday that en­emy threats were grow­ing daily af­ter China’s air­craft car­rier and a flotilla of other war­ships passed south of the is­land in an ex­er­cise as ten­sions rise. Af­ter sail­ing south of Tai­wan it­self, the Liaon­ing and five other war­ships on Mon­day passed the Tai­wanad­min­is­tered Dong­sha Is­lands in the South China Sea also claimed by Beijing, ac­cord­ing to Tai­wan’s de­fense min­istry.

The naval drills are seen as a show of strength by Beijing as its re­la­tions worsen with Tai­wan and the United States, fol­low­ing a pro­to­col-break­ing tele­phone con­ver­sa­tion be­tween Tai­wanese Pres­i­dent Tsai Ing-wen and US Pres­i­den­t­elect Don­ald Trump. Chi­nese media had ear­lier re­ported that the car­rier was headed for the Pa­cific on ex­er­cise for the first time along with its es­cort ships.

It was the lat­est in a se­ries of re­cent ex­er­cises staged by China, af­ter its mil­i­tary air­craft passed near Tai­wan on De­cem­ber 10 for the sec­ond time in less than a month. Tai­wan’s de­fense min­is­ter Feng Shih-kuan said yesterday, dur­ing a pro­mo­tion cer­e­mony for gen­er­als, that threats from the en­emy were grow­ing daily.

“I ask for strict train­ing... We train the sol­diers so they can not only sur­vive the war but also de­stroy the en­e­mies and ac­com­plish their mis­sions,” he said, with­out re­fer­ring to China by name. “The threat from our en­emy is in­creas­ing day by day. We need to main­tain com­bat vig­i­lance at any time. This is my ex­pec­ta­tion of you all.” Feng con­firmed that Tai­wan sent RF-16 re­con­nais­sance air­craft to mon­i­tor the Chi­nese war­ships.

His min­istry es­ti­mated that the Liaon­ing would ar­rive at a base in China’s south­ern is­land prov­ince of Hainan around yesterday evening. “The min­istry has been track­ing the Liaon­ing car­rier’s move­ments so the pub­lic can rest as­sured... and will closely mon­i­tor its move­ments in the fu­ture,” it said in a state­ment. Re­cently the Liaon­ing has been in­volved in ex­er­cises in the Yel­low Sea, with J-15 fighter jets tak­ing off from it and con­duct­ing air re­fu­el­ing and com­bat drills, ac­cord­ing to China’s state news agency Xin­hua.

Ear­lier in the month the Liaon­ing led large-scale ex­er­cises in the Bo­hai Sea that in­cluded live am­mu­ni­tion for the first time. Ties be­tween Tai­wan and China have turned in­creas­ingly frosty since Tsai’s elec­tion vic­tory in Jan­uary. Beijing has cut off of­fi­cial com­mu­ni­ca­tion with her gov­ern­ment, which took of­fice in May, af­ter it re­fused to pub­licly ac­cept the “one China” con­cept.

Un­der Tai­wan’s previous gov­ern­ment the two sides had stuck to the “1992 con­sen­sus”, in which they agree there is only one China with­out spec­i­fy­ing which is its right­ful rep­re­sen­ta­tive. China poses the main mil­i­tary threat to self-ruled Tai­wan. Beijing sees the is­land as part of its ter­ri­tory await­ing re­u­ni­fi­ca­tion-by force if nec­es­sary-even though the two sides have been ruled sep­a­rately since the end of a civil war in 1949. It has more than 1,000 mis­siles aimed at the is­land, ac­cord­ing to Tai­wan’s de­fense min­istry. — AFP

MANILA: Na­tional Bu­reau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion of­fi­cials dis­play nearly one met­ric ton of seized metham­phetamine dur­ing a press con­fer­ence. — AP

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