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Iran Press TV

Taiwan mulling buying tanks from US , defense minster says

Iran Press TV

Tue May 1, 2018 09:05PM

Taiwan is mulling the purchase of US M1A2 Abrams tanks in order to protect itself from a potential attack from China, its defense minster says.

Taiwanese Minister of National Defense Yen Teh-fa was quoted by RT on Tuesday as saying that the tanks would act as a coastal line of defense if China decides to reassert its sovereignty over the Island.

He went on to add that the tanks would become the main forces to "win the coast and defeat the enemy on the beach," and that the army is currently evaluating such a purchases from the US.

The minister added that the number of tanks to be purchased will be announced by the end of the year.

Yen said his country must bolster its defenses as China is increasing its military drills in the Taiwan Strait.

"In one or two months, China will hold more long-range military training and increase combined forces operations when engaged in such activities in waters near Taiwan," he further noted. "The Taiwan Strait is very likely to replace the Korean Peninsula as the hottest flash point in the region."

In April, China launched live-fire military exercises in the Taiwan Strait, in a show of force following its latest warning to Taipei against seeking independence or official ties with the United States.

Beijing's relations with Taipei have noticeably strained since Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen rose to power in May 2016, mainly due to her refusal to embrace the position that Taiwan and China are part of a single country.

China and Taiwan split amid a civil war in 1949; however, Beijing's leadership pursues their reunification. In 1979, the US adopted the "One China" but has, under US President Donald Trump, been playing up the prospect of direct relations with Taiwan as an apparent bargain against China.

The US switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979 but has kept trade ties with the island and remains its top supplier of weapons. The US President Donald Trump administration, in particular, has several times angered China over matters related to Taiwan. Last month, Trump signed new rules that would allow senior US officials to travel to Taiwan to meet their Taiwanese counterparts and vice versa.

Also on Tuesday, the Caribbean nation of the Dominican Republic severed its diplomatic ties with Taiwan, officially recognizing Chinese sovereignty over the self-ruled island.

A Tuesday statement on the Dominican president's website said the country had made the decision after a long process of consultation and pointed to the potential for growth in trade relations with China. It said that China was already the Dominican Republic's second-largest supplier of imported products.

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