Taiwan says it has not stepped up military deployments on frontline islands

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Taiwan has not increased military deployments on frontline islands facing China and there is nothing unusual in the military situation around Taiwan, the defense ministry said on Wednesday amid a rise in tensions with Beijing.

Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory despite the island’s rejection, has been wary of efforts by Beijing to ramp up pressure on Taipei following last month’s election of Lai Ching-te as president, a man Beijing considers a dangerous separatist.

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China’s coast guard on Sunday began regular patrols around the Taiwan-controlled Kinmen islands after two Chinese nationals died trying to flee Taiwan’s coast guard after their boat entered prohibited waters.

On Monday, China’s coast guard boarded a Taiwanese tourist boat in waters close to Kinmen, a move Taiwan denounced as causing “panic”.

Speaking at a regular news briefing in Taipei, Taiwan defense ministry intelligence office Huang Ming-chieh said there was currently “nothing abnormal” in China’s military movements around Taiwan.

Lee Chang-fu, deputy head of the ministry’s joint operations planning department, added that there was no increase in Taiwan’s deployments on the offshore islands, which also includes the Matsu archipelago further up the Chinese coast from Kinmen.

Kinmen is a short boat ride from the Chinese cities of Xiamen and Quanzhou and has been controlled by Taipei since the defeated Republic of China government fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a civil war with Mao Zedong’s communists, who set up the People’s Republic of China.

Kinmen, where there was fierce fighting during the height of the Cold War but is now a popular tourist destination, is home to a large Taiwanese military garrison, but it is Taiwan’s coast guard which patrols its waters.

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