Taiwan remains on 'normal combat readiness' despite tensions: MND
Taipei, May 3 (CNA) Taiwan's Armed Forces remain on "normal combat readiness status" despite tensions across the Taiwan Strait and a recent media description of Taiwan as the "most dangerous place on earth," according to a high-ranking defense official.
The military constantly adjusts the number of troops on alert depending on developments in the security situation around Taiwan, Vice Defense Minister Chang Che-ping (張哲平) said Monday during a legislative session.
Chang was asked by legislators to react to the cover story in the latest issue of the London-based magazine The Economist, which called Taiwan the "most dangerous place on earth" and "an arena for rivalry between China and the United States."
"Normal combat readiness status" is one of two general alert stages in Taiwan's military and remains active during peacetime and natural disasters when civilian authorities need military support.
The other general alert stage is referred to as "defensive combat status" and is activated when signs show an enemy attack is imminent or during any other emergencies.
Tensions have risen in recent months as China's military have increased the intensity and frequency of maneuvers by its warplanes and warships around Taiwan, Chang said.
According to data from Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND), China's People's Liberation Army has conducted at least 270 military sorties into airspace and waters near Taiwan.
Chang admitted that the risk of an armed conflict in the Taiwan Strait is high, when asked by legislators whether a conlict would arise if the United States and China fail to ease the tensions between them, and if Taiwan and China fail to engage in dialogue to build mutual trust.
To prevent the occurrence of an unplanned military encounter, all Taiwanese military personnel receive comprehensive briefings before going on missions, Chang told legislators, adding that Taiwan has close intelligence cooperation with like-minded countries.
He also revealed that the live-fire component of the annual Han Kuang military exercises scheduled in July will see the mobilization of up to 8,000 of Taiwan's military reserve personnel, the largest number ever for the exercise.
Responding to questions on the appearance of a Chinese Type 054A frigate in waters 125 kilometers off Taiwan's northeastern coast on May 1, Chang said it was most likely engaged in a single-ship training mission or a reconnaissance mission and did not present a serious threat to Taiwan.
He declined to comment on whether sea assets from Taiwan's Navy and Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force collaborated in a joint operation to monitor the movement of the Chinese ship, as reported by some media.
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