Taiwan does not seek to escalate tensions or provoke conflict with China, but will resolutely defend its national sovereignty, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday on a visit to troops in Hsinchu.
Tsai made the comment after observing an exercise by a battalion of the 542nd Armored Brigade at the army’s Northern Joint Testing Center, which she visited as part of a tour of northern military bases ahead of the Lunar New Year.
Tsai also toured the Second Tactical Fighter Wing and the Hsinchu branch of Taoyuan Armed Forces General Hospital.
Photo: Ritchie B. Tongo, EPA-EFE
The military thoroughly monitors and calmly responds to Chinese military activity in the waters and airspace surrounding the nation, while continuing to train and prepare for its defense, she said.
The government’s position is to not escalate or provoke conflict with China, while resolutely defending the nation’s sovereignty and security, she said.
Responsibility for maintaining regional peace and stability falls on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, she added.
The battalion-level tactical gunnery exercise utilized the army’s new laser-based engagement simulation system, which has significantly increased the effectiveness of unit training and wargaming, she said.
The military is updating training methods and equipment to match current military preparedness requirements, she said, adding that the reforms would be applied to the training of conscripts after mandatory military service is restored to one year.
The Ministry of National Defense is increasing the facilities, capacity and quality of military training to boost the effectiveness of the armed forces, she said.
Separately, the defense ministry has filed a request for the Executive Yuan to activate a secondary reserve fund of NT$917.34 million (US$30.19 million) to pay for soaring fuel and maintenance costs due to frequent deployments of Taiwanese ships and warplanes in response to Beijing’s military drills.
Continual probing of Taiwan’s sea and air defenses by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has strained military resources, especially ship and airplane fuel, a defense official familiar with the matter said yesterday on condition of anonymity.
The navy responds to suspicious movements of Chinese warships by approaching with an equal number of ships, a policy that puts the entire fleet on constant alert, the person said.
Beijing has sent warplanes into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone nearly every day for the past year, and the PLA Air Force has become more brazen in approaching or crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait, the source said.
Chinese jets additionally conducted menacing flights from the north using air lanes Taiwan reserves for special purposes, the person added.
As the air force scrambles fighter jets to repel or intercept the Chinese aircraft, the number of flight hours have surged, resulting in pilot exhaustion and accelerated wear on the planes, they said.
These factors have led to skyrocketing fuel expenditures that exceeded the army’s fuel budget, while price hikes by energy exporters has worsened the situation, the source said.
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