Taiwanese soldiers operate the U.S.-made M60-A3 tanks taking part in the annual training Jan. 23 at the Hualien army base. The Taiwan air force demonstrated its combat skills at the Hualien air base during an annual training before the coming lunar new year. (Sam Yeh / AFP)
HUALIEN, Taiwan — Taiwan held a military exercise Jan. 23 simulating an attempt by rival China to seize an airport in the east, one of the most crucial military establishments in the area, officials said.
Hundreds of soldiers and a fleet of main battle tanks were mobilized in the drill at Hualien airbase, while F-16 fighters were scrambled, air force officials said.
Ties between China and Taiwan have improved significantly since Beijing-friendly Ma Ying-jeou became the island’s president in 2008, vowing to adopt a non-confrontational policy toward the mainland. Ma was re-elected in January last year for a second and last four-year term.
China still regards Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary, although the island has governed itself since the two sides separated in 1949 after a long civil war.
The lingering threats have prompted Taiwan to keep modernizing its forces targeting China.