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Taiwan holds military drill after China repeated threats

#Taiwan #holds #military #drill #China #repeated #threats

Taiwan’s army held another live-fire drill Thursday after Beijing ended its largest-ever military drill on the island amid repeated threats to seize control of the self-governing democracy.

Beijing fumed during a trip to Taiwan last week by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the highest-ranking American elected official in decades, which saw days of air and sea exercises on the island that pushed tensions to their highest levels in years brought .

Taiwan has accused China of using the Pelosi visit as a pretext to launch drills that would allow it to rehearse for an invasion.

Lou Woei-jye, spokesman for Taiwan’s 8th Army Corps, told AFP its forces fired howitzers and target flares as part of Thursday morning’s defense drill.

The exercise in Taiwan’s southernmost county of Pingtung started at 08:30 a.m. local time (0030 GMT) and lasted about an hour, he said.

Artillery pulled in from the shore was lined up side by side, armed soldiers in units firing the howitzers out to sea one by one, a live stream showed.

Taiwan held a similar exercise in Pingtung on Tuesday. Both involved the deployment of hundreds of troops, the military said.

The military has downplayed their importance, saying they were already planned and were not a reaction to China’s war games.

“We have two objectives for the drills, the first is to certify the artillery’s health and state of maintenance, and the second is to confirm last year’s results,” Lou said, referring to the annual drills.

The latest drill came after China’s military said its own drills ended on Wednesday and said its forces had “successfully completed various tasks” in the Taiwan Strait while pledging to continue patrolling its waters.

But in the same announcement, China added that it would “continue to conduct military training and prepare for war.”

In a separate white paper released on Wednesday, China’s Office of Taiwan Affairs said Beijing “will not refrain from using force” against its neighbor and “reserves the option to take any measures necessary.”

“We are ready to leave ample space for peaceful reunification, but we will not leave space for any form of separatist activity,” the newspaper said.

Taiwan routinely holds military exercises simulating defense against a Chinese invasion, and last month it practiced countering attacks from the sea in a “joint intercept operation” as part of its largest annual exercise.

In response to the Chinese military’s revelation that it would end exercises on Wednesday, Taiwan’s army said it would “adjust how we deploy our forces… without losing our vigilance.”

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