Taiwan staged a military drill on Tuesday using tanks, mortars and small arms intended to repel an attack from the mainland which has stepped up its threats to reclaim the island. Major General Chen Chong-ji, director of the department of political warfare, said the exercise was intended to show Taiwan’s determination to maintain peace through a show of force. “No matter what is happening around the Taiwan Strait, our determination to guard our homeland will never change,” he said. The exercise, at the Hukou army base south of Taipei, was also meant to reassure the public that the military was maintaining its guard ahead of next month’s Lunar New Year festival, when many troops take leave. Taiwan denied diplomatic win as Washington travel freeze stops Craft’s visit Hukou base lies in Hsinchu county, a centre for Taiwan’s hi-tech industries that have thrived despite threats of invasion by Beijing, which considers the self-governing island part of its own territory to be reunited by force if necessary. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has sought to bolster the island’s defences with the purchase of billions of dollars in weapons from key ally the US, including upgraded F-16 fighter jets, armed drones, rocket systems and Harpoon missiles capable of hitting both ships and land targets. She has also boosted support for the island’s indigenous arms industry, including launching a programme to build new submarines to counter the mainland’s ever-growing naval capabilities. Beijing’s increased threats come as economic and political enticements bear little fruit, leading it to stage war games and send fighter jets and reconnaissance planes on an almost daily basis toward the island of 24 million people, which lies 160km (100 miles) off the mainland’s southeast coast across the Taiwan Strait. Along with world’s largest standing military, numbering around 2 million members, the mainland has the largest navy, with around 350 vessels, including two aircraft carriers and about 56 submarines. It also possesses around 2,000 combat fighters and bombers and 1,250 ground-launched ballistic missiles, considered a key strategic and psychological weapon against Taiwan. Taiwan’s armed forces are a fraction of that number, with much of its ground force consisting of short-term conscripts, and its fleet numbers only around 86 vessels, roughly half of them missile boats for coastal patrol.