Mon, Jul 15, 2019 - Page 3 News List

MND downplays recent PLA drills near Taiwan

Staff writer, with CNA

The Ministry of National Defense (MND) yesterday downplayed recent Chinese military exercises near Taiwan amid speculation that they were meant to send a message after the US last week announced it would move ahead with a major weapons deal with Taiwan.

The ministry said the live-fire exercises announced by its Chinese counterpart earlier in the day were part of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) annual drills, and described them as “nothing more than routine exercises.”

It has a complete picture of all PLA military maneuvers and exercises in the region and would be in position to respond effectively and accordingly to defend the nation should the need arise, the ministry said.

The Chinese Ministry of National Defense said it had carried out air and naval drills along China’s southeastern coast “in recent days,” but did not give an exact location.

“These drills were routine arrangements in accordance with annual plans for the military,” it said, without elaborating.

Lu Li-shih (呂禮詩), a former captain of the Republic of China Navy corvette Xinjiang, said on Facebook that the Chinese announcement was significant because the Chinese defense ministry rarely posts such announcements on its Web site.

Military experts said the drills could be seen as a warning to the US after Washington granted a US$2.22 billion arms sale package to Taiwan last week, the biggest and most substantive package of weapons since US President Donald Trump assumed office in 2017.

They also came as President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) left on a state visit to four Caribbean allies that also includes two, two-night transit visits in the US on her way to and from the Caribbean.

The package includes 108 M1A2T Abrams tanks, 250 Block I-92F MANPAD Stinger missile, four Block I-92 MANPAD Stinger fly-to-buy missiles and related equipment.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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