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Taiwan Air Force personnel stand guard at a military base on Penghu Island last week. Taiwan’s forces are maintaining peacetime combat preparedness and have not stepped up their alert status, the defence minister says. Photo: EPA-EFE

No sign China is preparing attack on Taiwan – but we will be ready if they do: defence chief

  • Island legislators told there is no evidence PLA is massing troops despite repeated drills and intimidation flights
  • Premier Su Tseng-chang says Taiwan’s people will tenaciously defend themselves and their land
There are no signs that China is preparing for all-out war with Taiwan, such as massing troops along its eastern coast, the Taiwanese defence chief said on Tuesday, after repeated drills by the mainland’s military near the island.
Taiwan has denounced mainland China’s manoeuvres, including flying fighter jets over the sensitive median line of the Taiwan Strait, as an attempt at intimidation.

“The Chinese communists have continued their acts of provocation against Taiwan, but there are currently no signs showing it is ready to launch a full-scale war,” Defence Minister Yen Te-fa told legislators on the island.

One sign of an imminent attack would be troops from inland parts of China massing along its east, but there were no indications that was happening, he added.

Taiwan’s own forces are maintaining peacetime combat preparedness and have not stepped up their alert status, Yen said. Nevertheless he vowed a fight to the last man to defend the island’s sovereignty and democracy.
Last week, in an apparent warning to China, the defence ministry said Taiwan’s armed forces had the right to self-defence and counter-attack amid “harassment and threats”.

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Taiwan’s military is well armed and well trained, but dwarfed by that of China, which is busy adding advanced new equipment such as stealth fighters.

Taiwanese Premier Su Tseng-chang, also speaking to the legislators, said attackers would have to pay a heavy price as Taiwan’s people would tenaciously defend themselves and their land.

“Taiwan would not fall,” added Su, who has previously said he would wield a broom if necessary to fight off a China attack, if that was all that was left.

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China has been angered by greater US support for Taiwan, including two visits by top officials, Health Secretary Alex Azar in August and Keith Krach, the undersecretary of state for economic affairs, this month.

The United States, which has no diplomatic ties with the island but is its strongest backer, also plans new arms sales to Taiwan.