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Taiwan bolsters S.China Sea deployments, gets U.S. submarine parts approval

Global Mar 17, 2021 11:40
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© Reuters.

By Yimou Lee and Ben Blanchard
TAIPEI, March 17 (Reuters) - Taiwan's newly-appointed
defence minister said on Wednesday it has strengthened
deployments in the disputed South China Sea and that the United
States has approved the export of sensitive technology to equip
Taiwan's new submarine fleet.
China, which claims democratic Taiwan as its own territory,
has increased its military activity near the island in recent
months seeking to pressure Taipei to accept Beijing's
sovereignty. Taiwan has vowed to defend itself.
Speaking in parliament, Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng, who
took up his post last month, said Taiwan has increased
personnel and armaments on Itu Aba, the main island Taiwan
occupies in the South China Sea.
Itu Aba, also known as Taiping island, is the largest
naturally occurring island in the Spratleys and is garrisoned by
Taiwan's Coast Guard.
"They are capable of starting a war," Chiu told the
parliament when asked by a lawmaker on whether China could
attack Taiwan. "My goal is for us to be ready at all times."
Chiu said Taiwan was bolstering its position there due to
China's "expansionism" in the region, though it was not
currently considering a return to a permanent army garrison.
China has built man-made islands in the South China Sea and
air bases on some of them. Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia
and Brunei all have competing claims in the strategic waterway.
Separately, Chiu said that the United States had approved
export permits for all of the sensitive equipment needed by
Taiwan's indigenous submarine fleet, which it started building
last year.
He added that Taiwan's arms purchases from the United States
- the island's main source of weapons - had not been impacted by
the new Biden administration taking office in Washington and
were continuing.
Taiwan is modernising its armed forces, especially as it
face almost daily challenges from China in the airspace and
waters near the island, including frequent Chinese air force
missions into Taiwan's air defence identification zone.
Chiu said these missions were part of China's war of
attrition against Taiwan, whose forces are dwarfed by Beijing's,
and defence forces were already adjusting on how to deal with
such incursions, though did not give details.
"If we match them one for one, it costs a lot," he said.

Taiwan bolsters S.China Sea deployments, gets U.S. submarine parts approval
 

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