Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen boarded a naval warship on Tuesday (July 26) for only the second time in her six years in office. She lauded the military’s determination to defend the island while overseeing its largest annual naval and air exercises, amid rising military pressure from China.
As part of Taiwan’s annual “Han Kuang” exercises, 20 warships including frigates and destroyers fired shells to intercept and attack a would-be invading force off Taiwan’s northeast coast, while fleets of F-16 fighter jets and domestically manufactured Ching-kuo fighters launched air strikes. Tsai, on board a decommissioned U.S. Kidd class missile destroyer in waters off the port town of Suao, was seen wearing camouflage clothing and greeting soldiers.
Beijing’s growing assertiveness towards the island it claims as its own, combined with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, have renewed debate about how to boost defence and prompted authorities to step up preparations in the event of a Chinese attack.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters that Taiwan’s attempt to confront China militarily is doomed to fail at a regular briefing in Beijing on Tuesday.
Beijing considers Taiwan to be part of its territory and has never renounced using force to bring the island under its control. Taiwan rejects Beijing’s sovereignty claims and vows to defend its freedom and democracy.