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Taiwan warns of increased Chinese military threats

Taipei’s defense ministry called for maintaining "combat preparedness" on Tuesday.

By
Elizabeth Shim
Taiwan issued a warning after Beijing’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, was seen sailing to the Western Pacific. File Photo by Xinhua
Taiwan issued a warning after Beijing’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, was seen sailing to the Western Pacific. File Photo by Xinhua

TAIPEI, Taiwan, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- Taiwan's Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan warned of increased threats from rival China a day after Beijing's first aircraft carrier was detected sailing across the East China Sea.

According to Taiwan's Central News Agency and Taiwanese newspaper United Daily News, Feng said Tuesday the "enemy's threats are increasingly expanding," referring to the Liaoning, the aircraft carrier that was sailing to the Western Pacific for what Beijing calls a routine scheduled drill.

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"We must always maintain combat preparedness," Feng said, according to local media, while giving out strict orders for reinforced military training and active countermeasures.

Feng also addressed soldier morale, calling on senior military commanders to treat troops like their own kin in the course of training, while nurturing their survival capabilities and capacity for destroying the enemy, according to Taiwanese press reports.

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The defense orders come at a time when tensions have escalated after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen exchanged a phone call with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.

Trump has defended the phone call on Twitter and Beijing has issued a warning about any objection to its "one-China" policy.

China does not recognize Taiwan as a sovereign state.

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In a separate statement, Taiwan's defense ministry said the Liaoning sailed through the straits between Okinawa and Miyakojima to reach the Western Pacific.

The carrier then returned through the Bashi Channel, a waterway between Y'Ami Island of the Philippines and Orchid Island of Taiwan.

Taiwan's air force dispatched F-16 fighter jets and RF-16 reconnaissance aircraft from a military airbase in Hualien County, and the defense ministry carefully analyzed aerial photographs of the Liaoning, according to local press reports.

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Three destroyers and two frigates accompanied the aircraft carrier. The carrier strike group was last seen sailing near the Taiwan-controlled Dongsha or Prata Islands on its way to China's Hainan Island.

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