Taiwan warns Chinese military drills pose 'enormous threat'

TAIPEI: Frequent and increased Chinese military drills pose an "enormous threat" to Taiwan's security, Taipei warned yesterday in an annual defence review that starkly highlighted rising cross-strait tensions.

China views Taiwan as part of its territory to be reunified at some point - by military force, if necessary.

The two sides split after a civil war in 1949. Although Taiwan is a self-ruling democracy, it has never formally declared independence.

Beijing has stepped up drills around the island since Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen took office last year, as she refuses to acknowledge both sides are part of "one China".

Local media estimate Chinese warplanes have conducted at least 20 drills around Taiwan this year, compared with just eight in 2016.

The latest known drill took place last week when several Chinese planes, including jet fighters, passed through the Bashi Channel south of Taiwan to the Pacific and back.

The frequent drills "have created (an) enormous threat to security in the Taiwan Strait," Taiwanese defence minister Feng Shih-kuan said in the 14th national defence report released yesterday.

The report highlighted the mismatch between the two rival's forces, saying Taiwan's military needed to adapt to a "multiple deterrence strategy". - AFP