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Taiwan speaks out against China military drills

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This file picture, taken in December 2016, shows Chinese J-15 fighter jets waiting on the deck of the Liaoning aircraft carrier during military drills in the Bohai Sea, off China’s northeast coast. (By AFP)

Taiwan’s military officials claim China’s reportedly frequent and growing military drills near the island are an “enormous threat.”

The frequent drills “have created enormous threat to security in the Taiwan Strait,” said Feng Shih-kuan, who acts as Taiwan’s “defense minister,” in an annual defense report released Tuesday.

Taiwan, claimed as a breakaway province by China, is not recognized as a sovereign state by much of the international community. Most countries in the world recognize Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan under a policy known as “One China.”

‘Asymmetric warfare’ against China

The Taiwanese annual defense review assessment highlighted the colossal mismatch between the military forces of China and Taiwan. It said Taiwan’s military needed to adapt to a “multiple deterrence strategy” in the face of the rapidly-climbing Chinese military might.

“Taiwan cannot compare with China’s defense budget and military developments,” Feng said in the report, which also estimated Chinese troop numbers at two million, compared to Taiwan’s nearly 210,000 service members.

Instead, the minister added, Taipei was “seriously reviewing and drawing a plan to develop asymmetric warfare to deter advances by the Chinese military.”

Beijing has reportedly stepped up drills around the island since Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen took office in 2016, as she declines to acknowledge both sides are part of “One China.”

A file photo of China’s sole aircraft carrier, the Liaoning (by AFP)

Earlier this year, China dispatched its only aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, through the Taiwan Strait during a military exercise as a show of strength.

According to Taiwanese media reports, Chinese jet fighters have conducted at least 20 military exercises around Taiwan this year, compared to only eight in 2016. The latest known drill reportedly took place last week, when several Chinese aircraft passed through the Bashi Channel, south of Taiwan, to the Pacific and back.

Taiwan and China became separated following a 1949 civil war. Although Taiwan claims self-rule, it has never formally declared independence.

Taiwan established its own cyber army command center this year, which currently employs nearly 1,000 people. It has also restructured its air force to centralize its anti-aircraft and missile defense command.

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