China announces live-fire drills along Taiwan Strait
Iran Press TV
Thu Apr 12, 2018 03:41PM
China has announced that it will launch live-fire naval drills in the strait which separates the mainland from the breakaway island of Taiwan.
"Live-fire military maneuvers will take place... in the Taiwan Strait," the maritime safety administration of Fujian, the province that lies opposite Taiwan, said in a statement on Thursday.
Fujian authorities said the one-day exercise along the 160-kilometer-wide strait will be held next Wednesday and that navigation in some areas will be prohibited during the drill.
In response to the announcement, Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council expressed "strong displeasure and opposition" to what it called a "provocative act which will seriously undermine cross-strait relations."
Taiwan's Defense Ministry, which claims Chinese military planes conducted 25 drills around the island between August 2016 and mid-December 2017, reacted with a statement saying the exercises appeared to be part of scheduled annual drills.
It said it would be closely monitoring the drills and that the exercises posed no danger to the people on the island.
"The Defense Ministry stresses that the military can comprehensively monitor and respond to the regional situation to ensure national security. We ask the public to rest assured," it said in a statement.
Chinese military drills near Taiwan could also raise protest by the United States. The US State Department recently approved issuing marketing licenses that would allow American manufacturers to sell submarine technology to Taiwan.
Beijing sees the self-ruled island as an inseparable part of the country and expects all countries committed to the "One China" policy to recognize Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan and cut diplomatic relations with Taipei.
The US, which agreed to the policy in 1979, has cut its official relations with Taiwan but maintained unofficial ties with the island.
Taiwan's current leader Tsai Ing-wen, who became president in May 2016 and is opposed to the "One China" policy signed between Beijing and Taiwan's previous government, has adopted a hostile approach toward China.
Beijing suspects that Tsai, who hails from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, seeks to push for formal independence, a move that would cross a red line for Beijing.
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