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Military review not attempt to upstage Xi: President Tsai

2018/04/13 18:10:38

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文, center, left)/photo courtesy of Military News Agency

Taipei, April 13 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) praised a military drill she witnessed in waters off eastern Taiwan on Friday and denied she was trying to upstage Chinese leader Xi Jinping (習近平) with China about to hold military exercises in the Taiwan Strait.

"The military has done a great job in the joint exercise, in which it has fully demonstrated its capabilities to conduct asymmetric warfare and gain naval supremacy (in the strait). It was impressive," Tsai said after the drill.

Tsai boarded the Kidd-class destroyer Kee Lung ((DDG-1801) at the Chungcheng naval base and sailed to waters off Su'ao in Yilan County to watch the combat readiness exercise involving the three branches of the military.

It was her first time on a warship since assuming office in May 2016, and when asked whether the timing of her appearance was intended to outshine Xi, Tsai said "there is no need to 'overreact' to the event."

"It was just a routine military readiness exercise, marking the start of a series of drills in the future as the military never rests during the year," she said.

China's People's Liberation Army will hold a live-fire military exercise in the Taiwan Strait on April 18, when Tsai will be away from Taiwan on a visit to Swaziland, one of Taiwan's two diplomatic allies in Africa. She leaves on April 17 and returns April 21.

"I have confidence in our military," Tsai said. "My plan to visit Swaziland will not be affected."

During Friday's drill, held to test the country's combat readiness and rapid response capabilities, the military simulated a response to invading forces attempting to seize Taiwan's major sea ports through air and naval attacks.

The Navy dispatched 20 vessels in coordination with eight F-16 jets of the Air Force and 2,500 Army troops in a joint anti-surface sea and air exercise to repel the attacks.

China announced Thursday the live-fire military exercise it plans to hold in the Taiwan Strait next week.

Asked by CNA about China's plans, the U.S. State Department reiterated Washington's opposition to unilateral actions by any party aimed at altering the cross-strait status quo, including any resort to force or other forms of coercion.

(By Yeh Su-ping and Flor Wang)