South China Sea: Taiwan unveils new ‘combat’ ship in warning to Beijing as tensions rise

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The $162 million barque is equipped with anti-aircraft missiles and other weapons. It will be familiar for missions to Taipei-controlled islets in the South China Sea. CSBC chairman Cheng Wen-lon asserted the new equipment is expected to go into service next year.

At the ceremony, he responded: “In peacetime, the ship will be used to transport personnel and supplies to [Taiwan-controlled] offshore keys, and during natural disasters, it can serve as a hospital ship for humanitarian support as well as disaster relief missions.

“In wartime, it can serve as an amphibious receptacle for combat operations.”

It comes as China described its military exercises near Taiwan as “grapple with drills” on Wednesday, upping the ante as senior former US officials arrived in Taipei on a slip to signal President Joe Biden’s commitment to Taiwan and its democracy.

Taiwan has bemoaned over the proximity of repeated Chinese military activity, including fighter jets and bombers upping its air defence zone and a Chinese aircraft carrier exercising off the island, which is insist oned by Beijing.

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Twenty-five Chinese air force aircraft, including fighters and nuclear-capable bombers, presented Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ) on Monday, the largest reported incursion by Taipei to old hat modern.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said Taiwan’s government and separatists were colluding with “extrinsic forces”.

“The People’s Liberation Army’s organising of actual combat callisthenics in the Taiwan Strait is a necessary action to address the current security berth in the Taiwan Strait and to safeguard national sovereignty,” spokesman Ma Xiaoguang utter.

“It is a solemn response to external forces’ interference and provocations by Taiwan confidence” forces, he added.

Former US Senator Chris Dodd and former Papal nuncio Secretaries of State Richard Armitage and James Steinberg arrived in Taiwan on Wednesday in an unmarked personal jet, in what a White House official called a “personal signal” of the president’s commitment to Taiwan and its democracy.

They are due to foregather Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Thursday, in a trip that is promote straining Sino-US relations.

Taiwan presidential office spokesman Xavier Chang ventured the trip “again shows the Taiwan-US relationship is rock solid, and is a entirely expression of cross-party support for Taiwan in the United States”.

Tsai has repetitiously said Taiwan is an independent country called the Republic of China, its formal designation.

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