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Taiwan to stage live-fire drills amid rising China tensions

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Taipei [Taiwan], April 10 (ANI): Amid growing aggression from China, Taiwan is planning to stage live-fire drills on the Dongsha Islands in the South China Sea later this month in preparation for a possible attack from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

This comes amid reports the Chinese forces have sent drones to gather intelligence about the Taipei-controlled islets in the region, South China Morning Post (SCMP).

Aside from the live-fire drills, a recent threat by Taiwan’s coastguard to shoot down any PLA drones sighted over Dongsha, could increase tensions in the region. The SCMP report said that the anti-landing drills would involve the use of shoulder-launched Kestrel rockets.

“There will be two live-fire practices, one on April 25 and the other on May 5, and we have already sent notices to relevant agencies, asking them to alert fishermen and aircraft to stay out of the firing zones,” an official from the Taiwan Coast Guard Administration said on Friday.

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The Ocean Affairs Council of Taiwan has requested funds for a further 164 Kestrels for deployment at Dongsha. Kestrels are used mostly for anti-armour and anti-landing, and were not designed to shoot down aircraft unless they were flying at a low level, Lee Chung-wei, who heads the council, told Taiwanese legislators.

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“If the drones entered our airspace, we would deal with them according to the rules. If we needed to open fire, we would open fire,” said Chung-wei.

This development comes amid growing closeness between Taiwan and the US, including their signing of a coastguard cooperation agreement.

In what could be called another massive blow to China, the United States has also issued new guidelines that encourage exchanges with Taiwanese counterparts, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Friday.

According to SCMP, the guidelines is a move made to bring Washington into compliance with a law signed by former President Donald Trump.

“The Department of State has issued new guidelines for US government interaction with Taiwan counterparts to encourage US government engagement with Taiwan that reflects our deepening unofficial relationship. The guidance underscores Taiwan is a vibrant democracy and important security and economic partner that is also a force for good in the international community,” Price said in a statement. (ANI)

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