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Taiwan military holds biggest exercises in five years

By Elizabeth Shim
Taiwan military holds biggest exercises in five years
Taiwan naval battleships maneuver in Hualien, Taiwan, on Wednesday. Photo by Ritchie B. Tongo/EPA-EFE

May 22 (UPI) -- Taiwan's military held its largest maritime drills in five years as tensions with China have risen since President Tsai Ing-wen assumed office.

The training on Wednesday came days ahead of the Han Kuang exercises, Taiwan's biggest annual military drill, scheduled to take place from Monday to May 31, Taiwan's Central News Agency reported.

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The drills included simulations of a mainland Chinese attack on the naval port of Suao, and included responses from a warfare center in Suao that notified the area. The Tsoying, a 9,525-ton Keelung-class destroyer, left Suao port, as did a Kang Ding-class frigate, three Cheng Kung-class frigates, a Chi Yang class frigate and two Ching Chiang-class patrol ships.

Two U.S.-manufactured Perry-class guided missile frigates were deployed on Wednesday.

A total of 22 fighter jets joined the drills, including Mirages, Indigenous Defense Fighters and F-16s.

The drill was divided into five operations, including air defense, submarine operations and sea command operations.

The Han Kuang exercises are to take place in Changhua and Pingtung, according to CNA.

China has previously warned Taiwan it will unify the island by force if necessary and has even conducted military exercises to admonish Taiwan.

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Tsai is seeking to win the presidential primary.

Taiwan News reported this week Tsai is coming under criticism from her own party, the Democratic Progressive Party, for making a public appearance with a controversial party politician.

Opposition parties have challenged Tsai and have blamed her for declining ties with Beijing.

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