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Taiwan defence chief says no signs China is preparing for war

[TAIPEI] There are no signs that China is preparing for all-out war with Taiwan, such as massing troops along its eastern coast, Taiwan's defence chief said on Tuesday, after repeated Chinese drills near the island that China claims as its own.

Democratic Taiwan has denounced China's manoeuvres, including flying fighter jets over the sensitive mid-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 De-fa told parliament.

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

Taiwan's own forces are maintaining peacetime combat preparedness and have not stepped up their alert status, Mr Yen said. Nevertheless he vowed a fight to the last man to defend the island's sovereignty and democracy.

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Last week, in an apparent warning to China, the defence ministry said Taiwan's armed forces have the right to self-defence and counterattack amid "harassment and threats".

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

Premier Su Tseng-chang, also speaking in parliament, 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 Mr 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.

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.

REUTERS

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