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Taiwan to increase missile drills amid China threats

TAIPEI — Taiwan’s armed forces will increase the number of missile drills they hold this year, defense minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said on Tuesday, amid China’s ramped-up military pressure to force the island to accept its sovereignty claims.

China claims democratically governed Taiwan as its own territory, over the island’s strong objections. It has in recent years increased military activities near Taiwan, including almost-daily incursions into the island’s air defense identification zones.

Answering reporters’ questions on the sidelines of parliament, Mr. Chiu said the ministry would increase the frequency of missile drills in response to a change in “enemy threat.”

Mr. Chiu said that in the past, missile drills had only been held at certain times of the year to limit the impact on aviation and everyday life.

“We must consider boosting our training in response to the enemy’s situation,” he said, adding that the amount of ammunition the drills use will be in line with regulations. He did not elaborate on what that meant.

China will boost defense spending by 7.2% this year, the same rate as last year, but higher than the government economic growth forecast, according to an official work report reviewed by Reuters on Tuesday.

Taiwan’s defense ministry did not immediately respond to request for comment. — Reuters

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