Sat, Jul 24, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Military drills continue as Chinese official hectors US

STOP EXCHANGES China's foreign minister told the visiting top US military official in the Pacific that the situation is both serious and sensitive

AFP , Taipei

The military staged live-fire cannon exercises yesterday, continuing major annual maneuvers coinciding with large-scale war games reportedly being conducted by China.

The anti-landing drill on the southwestern coast involved firing at targets 7km off the coast.

About 450 troops joined in the exercise, which is part of the annual Han Kuang maneuvers demonstrating the nation's readiness in the event of an attack from China.

On Thursday around 5,000 troops joined exercises on the southern coast simulating an attempt to repel an enemy beach landing.

This drill also involved armored vehicles and around 300 paratroopers.

The maneuvers are taking place as Beijing urged the US to stop arms sales to Taiwan given the "seriousness" of cross-strait ties.

"The United States should clearly understand the seriousness and sensitiveness of the Taiwan situation," Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing (李肇星) yesterday told Thomas Fargo, commander in chief of the US Pacific Command.

Fargo is in China to meet with senior military officials, days after the State Department urged China and Taiwan to ensure that military exercises on both sides are not provocative.

Li said US arms sales to Taipei should be halted and the US must "stop its relevant military exchanges aiming to upgrade the substantial relationship with Taiwan," the official Xinhua news agency reported yesterday.

China has reportedly been carrying out large-scale joint sea, land and air drills around Dong-shan island.

Hong Kong papers have said these war games, the year's largest, were aimed at simulating an invasion of Taiwan.

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