Taiwan military stages drill aimed at repelling China attack

HSINCHU, Taiwan (AP) - Taiwanese troops using tanks, mortars and small arms held an exercise Tuesday to repel an attack from China that has increased its threats to retake the island and its own military forces.
"No matter what happens across the strait, our determination to protect our homeland will never change," said Maj. Gen. Chen Chong-ji, director of the political warfare division, of the exercise at the Hukou military base south of the capital Taipei .
Chen said the exercise was intended as evidence of Taiwan's determination to keep the peace between the parties through violence.
The exercises are also designed to reassure the public that the military will be on guard before the New Year celebrations next month, when many troops are saying goodbye.
The Hukou base is located in Hsinchu County, a center for Taiwan's high-tech industries that have thrived despite the constant invasion by China. The self-governing island democracy as part of its own territory is conquered by force if necessary.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has sought to bolster the island's defenses by purchasing billions of dollars' worth of weapons from key U.S. allies, including upgraded F-16 fighter jets, armed drones, missile systems, and harpoon missiles that both ships as well as ships can hit land targets. It has also stepped up support for the island's indigenous armaments industry, including launching a program to build new submarines to counter China's ever-increasing sea capabilities.
China's growing threat stems from the fact that economic and political incentives bear little fruit and host war games almost daily, sending warplanes and reconnaissance planes to the island of 24 million people, which is 160 kilometers off China's southeast coast across the Taiwan Strait.
In addition to the world's largest standing military with around 2 million members, China has the largest navy with around 350 ships, including two aircraft carriers and around 56 submarines. It also has around 2,000 combat fighters and bombers and 1,250 ground-fired ballistic missiles, which are considered to be an important strategic and psychological weapon against Taiwan.
The Taiwanese armed forces make up a fraction of that number, with much of the ground force being short-term conscripts and the fleet only comprising about 86 ships, about half of which are coastal patrol missile boats.
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