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Taiwan ends modest military drill as China ties warm PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 30 June 2008

TAIPEI,Fri Jun 27,( - Taiwan quietly wrapped up a week of computer-simulated military exercises on Friday, keeping the annual island-wide training event low-key this year as relations improve with its old rival, China.

Military officials did little to publicize the first phase of the Han Kuang exercises, but one source said a 20-person US team was invited to watch.

China has claimed the self-ruled island as its own since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949 and vowed to bring it back under mainland rule, by force if necessary. But ties between the two governments are improving.

Taiwan and China are to begin direct flights and expand tourism following historic dialogue after the election of the island's new China-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou.

Taiwan pushed the live-fire segment of the exercise back to September, after the flights have begun and after the Beijing Olympics.

"Ma wants to keep China happy partly because of the recent negotiations," said Wendell Minnick, the Asia bureau chief of Defence News. "Clearly they want to pacify China."

After simulation exercises last year, Taiwan announced for the first time it would fire missiles at Chinese airfields and missile launch sites if Beijing attacked.

Last year, the military used computers to simulate battle scenarios by China in 2012, beginning with an air and sea blockade, followed by a response to cruise missile attacks.

A military press liaison officer called the 2008 exercises normal.

"You can't say this approach is to avoid provoking China," he said. "It's nothing to do with that. It's an annual exercise."

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