Chinese drills have improved Taiwan’s combat capabilities, president says

Navy members walk to position at a naval base in the Penghu Islands, Taiwan, August 30, 2022. REUTERS/Ann Wang/File Photo

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TAIPEI, Sept 6 (Reuters) – The Taiwanese military’s combat skills are now “more mature” and they are better able to fight thanks to the need to scramble repeatedly to fend off Chinese forces during their recent exercises, President Tsai Ing-wen said on Tuesday.

China staged war games in the aftermath of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei last month, angered by what she saw as a strong show of US support for the island that Beijing claims as its own territory. Chinese military activities near Taiwan have continued since then.

Speaking to air force personnel at Hualien Air Base on Taiwan’s east coast, Tsai said the situation around the Taiwan Strait remained tense and the threat had not gone away.

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“In the face of challenges, our national army calmly responded to the enemy’s intrusion intentions and tenaciously defended the country’s security,” she said, according to a transcript of the remarks released by the presidential office.

“I believe that after this period of combat readiness missions, our national army’s combat skills are more mature and its combat power is more powerful.”

Tsai added that she was “extremely proud” of the armed forces.

The Hualien base has hangers cut into the side of a mountain and houses F-16s from Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N).

Taiwan’s armed forces are well equipped but dwarfed by those of China. Tsai oversaw a modernization program and made increasing defense spending a priority.

Taiwan’s democratically elected government says that since the People’s Republic of China has never ruled the island, it has no right to claim it or decide its future, which can only be determined by the Taiwanese people.

China has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control.

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Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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