As part of Taiwan's annual "Han Kuang" exercises, 20 warships including frigates and destroyers fired shells to intercept and attack a would-be invading force off Taiwan's northeast coast.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has boarded a naval warship for only the second time in her six years in office, lauding the military's determination to defend the island while overseeing its largest annual naval and air exercises.
As part of Taiwan's annual "Han Kuang" exercises, 20 warships including frigates and destroyers fired shells to intercept and attack a would-be invading force off Taiwan's northeast coast, while fleets of F-16 fighter jets and domestically manufactured Ching-kuo fighters launched air strikes.
Tsai, on board a decommissioned US Kidd class missile destroyer in waters off the port town of Suao, was seen wearing camouflage clothing and greeting soldiers on Tuesday.
"The excellent drill just now demonstrated the ability and determination by the soldiers of the Republic of China to defend the country," Tsai told soldiers via a cabin broadcast, using Taiwan's official name.
"Let's continue to guard our homeland together. Good job," she said.
Speaking in a pre-recorded speech at a security forum in Taipei on Tuesday morning, Tsai said "authoritarian forces" were threatening to subvert the status quo in the Indo-Pacific region and Taiwan was standing on the geopolitical frontline to "fight against the authoritarian aggression".
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The military drills, which simulate the repulsion of an invading force, coincide with air-raid exercises across the island as it boosts combat preparedness in the face of rising military pressure from China.
Beijing's growing assertiveness towards the island it claims as its own, combined with Russia's offensive on Ukraine, have renewed debate about how to boost defence and prompted authorities to step up preparations in the event of a Chinese attack.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian, asked about the drills at a regular briefing in Beijing, repeated China's warnings about any military moves by Taiwan.
"Taiwan's attempt to confront China militarily is akin to a mantis trying to obstruct a chariot," he said. "In the end, it is doomed to fail."
China said on Monday it heightened warnings to the Biden administration about US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's possible visit to Taiwan. Such visits are a frequent source of tension between Beijing and Washington.
The United States does not have official diplomatic relations with Taiwan but is bound by US law to provide the democratically governed island with the means to defend itself.
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