South China Sea: Taiwan unveils new ‘combat’ ship in warning to Beijing as tensions rise.
TAIWAN has unveiled its first modern amphibious assault and transport vessel, The Yushan, to defend itself against Beijing in the South China Sea.
The $162 million vessel is equipped with anti-aircraft missiles and other weapons. It will be used for missions to Taipei-controlled islets in the South China Sea. CSBC chairman Cheng Wen-lon said the new equipment is expected to go into service next year.
At the ceremony, he said: “In peacetime, the ship will be used to transport personnel and supplies to offshore islands, and during natural disasters.
“In wartime, it can serve as an amphibious vessel for combat operations.”
It comes as China described its military exercises near Taiwan as “combat drills” on Wednesday, upping the ante as senior former US officials arrived in Taipei on a trip to signal President Joe Biden’s commitment to Taiwan and its democracy.
Taiwan has complained over the proximity of repeated Chinese military activity, including fighter jets and bombers entering its air defence zone and a Chinese aircraft carrier exercising off the island, which is claimed by Beijing.
Twenty-five Chinese air force aircraft, including fighters and nuclear-capable bombers, entered Taiwan’s air defence identification zone on Monday, the largest reported incursion by Taipei to date.
China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said Taiwan’s government and separatists were colluding with “external forces”.
“The People’s Liberation Army’s organising of actual combat exercises in the Taiwan Strait is a necessary action to address the current security situation in the Taiwan Strait and to safeguard national sovereignty,” spokesman Ma Xiaoguang said.
The PLA’s military exercises and training operations are sending a signal that our determination to curb Taiwan independence and Taiwan-U.S. collusion is not just talk.”
China has previously offered little public comment on its recent military movements near Taiwan.
Its defence ministry referred to them only as “military activities” in late January.
They are due to meet Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Thursday, in a trip that is further straining Sino-US relations.
Taiwan presidential office spokesman Xavier Chang said the trip “again shows the Taiwan-US relationship is rock solid, and is a full expression of cross-party support for Taiwan in the United States”.
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