President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday toured several military bases in Kaohsiung to thank military personnel for their contributions to safeguarding the country in the face of repeated incursions by the Chinese air force.
Tsai visited the air force’s 3rd Logistics Command in the city’s Gangshan District (岡山), the army’s Engineer Group in Yanchao District (燕巢) and the navy’s Underwater Operations Unit (UOU) in Zuoying District (左營).
“I found that the troops I encountered today have a common characteristic, that is, they are all unsung heroes,” she said in Zuoying.
She said that since taking office in 2016, her administration has improved the working conditions and welfare of military personnel.
For example, a new dormitory is being built at the UOU base in Zuoying, which will hopefully improve the quality of life for officers and soldiers at the base, Tsai said.
Also, the government last year began building a facility in Kaohsiung where the country’s first indigenous submarine is to be made, she said.
Tsai said that her ultimate goal is to improve the dignity of soldiers so that military service can increasingly become an interesting career for young people.
China has intensified its military maneuvers in the region, including sending warplanes into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone.
The Ministry of National Defense this month said that the “dramatic increase” in threat level and the military’s aircraft being “middle-aged” required a considerable increase in maintenance costs, which had not been budgeted for.
Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) on Wednesday voiced concern over the cost of tensions with China.
“Each time the communist aircraft harass Taiwan, our air force takes to the skies, and it is extremely costly. This isn’t only a burden for Taiwan, but quite a big one for China, too,” he said.
One Taiwan-based diplomat, citing conversations with security officials, said that China appeared to be waging a campaign of attrition with its frequent flybys.
“China is trying to wear out Taiwan’s pilots by keeping them constantly on edge,” the diplomat said on condition of anonymity.
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