Taipei, China is expected to increase the scope of its long-distance combat training exercises at sea to put greater pressure on Taiwan, Minister of National Defense Yen Teh-fa (???) said Monday.
"In one or two months, China will hold more long-range military training and increase combined forces operations when engaged in such activities in waters near Taiwan," Yen confirmed, when answering questions from opposition Kuomintang (KMT) lawmaker Chiang Chi-chen (???) about China's increased military deployments in the Taiwan Strait and East China Sea in recent months.
"The Taiwan Strait is very likely to replace the Korean Peninsula as the hottest flash point in the region," Yen said.
"In response to the changing situation, Taiwan's military has also increased its combat readiness," he added.
Since the beginning of this year, the Liaoning, China's only operational aircraft carrier, sailed through waters near Taiwan as part of a long-distance training exercise on Jan. 4, March 20 and April 19, according to information provided by the Ministry of National Defense.
The exercise on April 19 was clearly politically motivated, as it was conducted when President Tsai Ing-wen (???) was on a state visit to Swaziland, political observers have said.
Recently, Chinese aircraft have also flown through Japan's Miyako Strait on their way to the West Pacific before returning home through the Bashi Channel between Taiwan and the Philippines on three consecutive days from April 18-20 period and on April 26.
Questioned by lawmaker Tsai Shih-ying (???) from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party about the military's plans to procure tanks, Yen said an assessment on procuring M1A2 tanks -- the most modern battle tank in the world -- from the United States will be completed by the end of this year, after which Taiwan will officially make a bid to buy the tanks from the U.S.
Taiwan will only buy a few M1A2 tanks from the U.S., Yen said, adding that it is hoped that will allow the local defense industry to obtain the technology needed to develop domestically manufactured armored vehicles.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel