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Taipei, Feb. 11 (CNA) The reported passage of two new mainland Chinese destroyers through the Taiwan Strait during the early morning hours of Saturday has nothing to do with Taiwan's presidential election scheduled for March 18, a Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) official said on Friday.

However, MAC Vice Chairman Lin Chong-pin said the passage is seen as an apparent attempt by the People's Liberation Army to flex its muscles and psychologically intimidate Taiwan.

Nevertheless, Lin pointed out, if Taiwan's presidential election in March is conducted smoothly, it will demonstrate that the power of the democratic process is far more invincible than mainland China's military modernization.

Two new Russia-built Sovremenny-class destroyers are scheduled to sail through the Taiwan Strait Saturday on their way to a mainland Chinese naval base in the southeastern province of Zhejiang. The naval vessels began their voyage from Saint-Petersburg on Dec. 25.

According to the Ministry of National Defense (MND), the mainland Chinese destroyers, which will perform tests during their passage through the strait, will be flanked by the PLA's Donghai Fleet and accompanied by Air Force jet fighters for cover.

While closely monitoring the situation, the MND said all three branches of the ROC Armed Forces will be on stand by to deal with any possible scenario.

Meanwhile, Lin noted that Beijing is using the passage of the naval vessels through the Taiwan strait as a way to put psychological pressure on Taiwan while conveniently being able to officially deny it afterwards. (By Deborah Kuo)

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