Taiwan says it has full grasp of China's military movements
Taiwan said on
Thursday it has a full understanding of China's military movements on the eve
of the start of landmark weekend charter flights across the Taiwan Strait.
"The military authorities have kept fully abreast of the movements of the Chinese military and will continue to monitor them closely in the face of closer exchanges across the Taiwan Strait," Vice Defence Minister Lin Chen-yi was quoted by the semi-official Central News Agency as saying.
He described the Taiwanese forces as "calm outside, but tense inside" at a time when weekend charter flights are set to shuttle across the Taiwan Strait from Friday.
Taiwan and China, rivals since the two sides split at the end of a civil war in 1949, signed a deal on June 13 to operate direct charter flights as a sign of warming relations after Ma Ying-jeou of the China-friendly Nationalist Party or Kuomintang was elected president in March and adopted a policy of mending fences with the mainland.
Pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) parliamentarians said the flights would only endanger the island as China has never reduced its military threat against Taiwan.
DPP lawmaker Twu Shing-jer on Thursday cited a local newspaper report that 15 Chinese warplanes recently conducted a drill under the cover of several commercial passenger jetliners.
The Defence Ministry's Lin said the drill was actually aimed at honing the Chinese military ability to fight terrorism in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics in August.
Lin stressed the Taiwanese military is fully prepared and is ready to deal with any challenge that might arise in the face of the launch of the charter flights.
Separately on Thursday, the military launched a live-fire artillery drill in Penghu, an offshore group of islands, to practice the combat readiness of Taiwanese troops, dpa reported.