Taiwan conducts missile drills ‘in face of’ China military intrusions

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Taiwan conducted an air defense test on Tuesday morning deploying US-made Patriot missiles and its anti-aircraft artillery systems, saying it will ramp up training in the face of Chinese military “intrusions” around the self-ruled island.

Beijing claims Taiwan as part of its territory and has said it will not rule out using force to bring the island under its control.

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Chinese warplanes and ships maintain a near-daily presence around the island, as Beijing has ramped up military pressure against Taipei using what experts say are “grey zone” actions -- tactics that stop short of outright acts of war.

Taiwan’s Air Force Command said it conducted an exercise between 5 and 7 am (2100-2300 GMT Monday) that included the island’s domestically made Sky Bow and US-made Patriot surface-to-air missiles along with army and navy units.

“The aim was to verify the command and control of joint air defense operations among the three branches of the military,” it said, adding that the exercise went smoothly.

“In the face of frequent intrusions by PLA aircraft and vessels into the airspace and waters surrounding Taiwan, the Air Force will continue to enhance training intensity to respond to potential threats.”

Taiwan rejects Beijing’s claim over it, and its president-elect -- current Vice President Lai Ching-te, who won the country’s January election -- is regarded as a “dangerous separatist” by China.

On Tuesday, 13 Chinese aircraft and seven navy vessels were spotted around Taiwan in the 24 hours leading up to 6 am Tuesday (2200 GMT Monday), Taipei’s defense ministry said.

Last week, Taiwan detected 36 Chinese military aircraft around the island in a 24-hour window, the highest single-day number this year so far.

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