Sat, Apr 14, 2018 - Page 3 News List

China’s drill notice mostly ‘amplified’ talk

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

People should not make “unnecessary interpretations” regarding China’s announcement on Thursday that it is to conduct live-fire drills in the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday next week, as the statement is most likely “amplified” rhetoric aimed at terrorizing Taiwanese, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers said yesterday.

DPP Legislator Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政), a member of the Legislative Yuan’s Foreign and National Defense Committee, said that the drill would be a routine exercise and that it would not be particularly large.

People should not overreact to China’s statement, as the Chinese government obviously wanted to terrorize Taiwan by trumpeting news of the drill on the Global Times, where it described the planned drill as a move to deter Taiwanese independence forces and counter the partnership between Taiwan and the US in the power struggle in the Taiwan Strait, Lo said in response to media queries for remarks.

Asked about former vice president Annette Lu’s (呂秀蓮) remarks that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) should cancel her diplomatic trip to Swaziland and instead focus on “escalating tensions” in the Taiwan Strait, Lo said he was not convinced that tensions had escalated.

He likewise did not believe that the government should rashly cancel the trip, as doing so might cause the public to panic, thus playing into Beijing’s hands, he added.

While Tsai denied that her boarding the Keelung destroyer to observe a drill off the waters of Yilan’s Suao Township (蘇澳) was a response to Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) inspecting a large drill in the South China Sea that began on Thursday, DPP Legislator Tsai Shih-ying (蔡適應) said China might want to use next week’s drills as a response to Taiwan’s military exercises.

Considering the drill’s proximity to the M503 flight route and three accompanying routes that Beijing arbitrarily launched in January, the exercises are risky and contradicts the image of a “steadily growing peace-loving nation” that China has been trying to project, Tsai Shih-ying said.

The location that China has picked for the drill is very close to commercial air routes, increasing the risk of shells accidentally hitting passing civilian boats or aircraft, he said.

China’s announcement is like “slapping itself in the face” as it unilaterally decided to launch the air routes, which means that it must now shoulder the responsibility for any negative consequences, he said.

“The Taiwan Strait is only about 200km wide. There are other locations that would be more suitable for China to conduct its military drills, where it would have enough space to test the precision of its cannons without disrupting traffic,” Tsai Shih-ying said.

Separately yesterday, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lee Yen-hsiu (李彥秀) called on agencies in charge of national security to take pre-emptive measures regarding the drill, while urging Tsai Ing-wen’s administration to swiftly clear its communication channel with Beijing.

Given the icy cross-strait relations, any accident during the drill could evolve into something unimaginable, she said.

Tsai Ing-wen, whose party has total administrative power, should not always shift the responsibility of poor cross-strait ties to Beijing, but should proactively devise measures to solve the standoff, she said.

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