Taiwan moves to revamp military amid Chinese muscle flexing

The Straits Times
Date: August 30, 2020

Rockets being launched from a domestically manufactured multiple rocket system and two US-made AH-64E attack helicopters (above) releasing flares during a Taiwanese military drill in Taichung last month. The exercises aimed to demonstrate how Taiwan’s military would repel an invasion from China.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

TAIPEI • On a cloudy day last month, thousands of soldiers massed on a beach in central Taiwan for the culmination of five days of exercises intended to demonstrate how the island's military would repel an invasion from China.

Jets, helicopters and artillery and missile batteries fired live ammunition at targets offshore, sending plumes of sea spray into the air. Then, a few hours later, a military helicopter taking part in the same exercise crashed at an airfield farther up the coast, killing two pilots and casting a shadow over the show of force.

It was the latest in a string of deadly mishaps, including a crash in January that killed the military's top commander, which have given new urgency to the debate over Taiwan's readiness to defend its 24 million people – with or without the help of the United States.

"I have to be honest: Taiwan's military needs to improve a lot," Mr Wang Ting-yu, a member of the Parliament's foreign affairs and defence committee, said in a telephone interview.

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