Taiwan holds live-fire drills days after Chinese military exercises around island
Taiwan’s military kicked off a live-fire artillery drill Tuesday after days of massive Chinese military exercises around the self-ruled island, which came in the wake of US House Speaker's controversial visit to the region.
The drill, which simulated the defense of the island against an attack, was held Tuesday morning in the southern county of Pingtung with the firing of target flares and artillery, according to Lou Woei-jye, spokesman for Taiwan's Eighth Army Corps.
The Taiwanese military said hundreds of troops and about 40 howitzers took part in the drills, which will be repeated on Thursday.
The drill came as China on Monday announced more military exercises near the Chinese Taipei, just a day after concluding its largest-ever air and sea exercises around the island to protest Pelosi’s recent two-day visit to the island.
Lou, however, insisted on Monday that the drills were already scheduled and were not being held in response to China’s exercises.
Pelosi’s controversial visit has enraged China, which has long opposed US interference in the self-ruled island as well as regular visits to the territory by US officials despite Washington's formal recognition of the “one-China” policy.
Pelosi became the highest-ranking American official to set foot in Taiwan in a quarter century, much to the chagrin of Beijing.
In response, China held test launches of ballistic missiles over Taipei for the first time and suspended some lines of dialogue with Washington.
The United States has slammed the scale and intensity of China's exercises, as well as its withdrawal from key talks.
Beijing on Monday stressed that its behavior was "firm, forceful and appropriate" to American provocation.
"(We) are only issuing a warning to the perpetrators," foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a regular briefing, stressing that China would "firmly smash the Taiwan authorities' illusion of gaining independence through the US".
"We urge the US to do some earnest reflection, and immediately correct its mistakes."
China considers Chinese Taipei as a breakaway province that should be reunited with the mainland under the internationally-recognized “one-China” policy.
The sovereignty is subject to international recognition, including by the United States.
But, in violation of its own stated policy and in an attempt to irritate Beijing, Washington has recently ramped up diplomatic contact with the self-proclaimed government in Chinese Taipei. Washington is also the island's largest weapon supplier.
Relations between China and the US have grown tense in recent years, with the world’s two largest economies clashing over a range of issues, including America's meddling in Chinese Taipei.