Taiwan announces new-look military drills to counter China

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, above, said “China must face the fact of the existence of Taiwan.” (AFP)
Updated 09 January 2019
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Taiwan announces new-look military drills to counter China

  • Washington is a key supplier of weaponry to Taiwan and is legally bound to respond to threats against it
  • Xi has been ratcheting up the military threat to put pressure on independence-leaning Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen

TAIPEI: Taiwan’s military on Wednesday announced a series of newly designed large-scale military drills for this year aimed at countering China’s renewed threat to use force to gain control over the island.
While Taiwan’s armed forces regularly hold such exercises, this year’s drills are “being drafted based on newly adopted tactics for defending against a possible Chinese invasion,” the official Central News Agency quoted Defense Ministry planning chief Maj. Gen. Yeh Kuo-hui as saying.
China claims sovereignty over the self-governing island democracy, which split from the mainland amid civil war in 1949.
Chinese President Xi Jinping renewed the threat of force in his Jan. 2 message to the island, saying China reserved that right if necessary to counter interference by external forces and what he called an extremely small number of Taiwanese separatists.
Although Xi didn’t mention the US by name, Washington is a key supplier of weaponry to the island and is legally bound to respond to threats against Taiwan.
With its 3 million-member armed forces and the world’s second largest defense budget of $173 billion, China has the overwhelming military edge over Taiwan. Xi has been ratcheting up the military threat to put pressure on independence-leaning Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.
Tsai responded to Xi’s speech by rejecting demands for unification between the sides, saying, “China must face the fact of the existence of Taiwan.”
Taiwan wields a much smaller by technologically sophisticated force that would be relied on to hold off a Chinese assault until outside help arrives.
In recent years, Taiwan’s strategy has evolved from defeating a Chinese landing force to repelling an invasion on sea and in the air.


Report raises fresh doubts over Trump’s NATO commitment

Updated 16 January 2019
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Report raises fresh doubts over Trump’s NATO commitment

  • Last year, Trump repeatedly told senior officials that he did not see the point of NATO
  • Before taking office, Trump called NATO “obsolete”

WASHINGTON: Fresh doubts surfaced Tuesday over President Donald Trump’s commitment to NATO, after he was reported to have discussed a desire to pull out of the trans-Atlantic military alliance.
Last year, Trump repeatedly told senior officials that he did not see the point of NATO — the historic alliance that forms the backbone of the West’s post-World War II security order — and that he wanted to withdraw, The New York Times reported.
He has often blasted members of the 29-nation partnership for not paying more into their national defense budgets.
Before taking office, Trump called NATO “obsolete” and soon after a tumultuous summit in July, he questioned whether the US would honor the alliance’s founding principle of mutual defense for newest member Montenegro.
Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesman, said the US remains “100 percent” committed to NATO.
At the summit the president said the US “commitment to NATO is very strong” and “tremendous progress has been made” by allies and partners.
“That has not changed,” Pahon said in a statement.
“NATO remains the cornerstone of transatlantic security.”
In Brussels, a NATO official also highlighted Trump’s comments from the July summit.
“The United States is strongly committed to NATO and to transatlantic security,” the official told AFP.
“The US has significantly boosted its commitment to the defense of Europe, including with increased troop commitments.”
Turning 70 this year, NATO has underpinned Western security in Europe for decades, first countering the Soviet Union and then Russian expansionism.
A US withdrawal from NATO would be a strategic gift of epic proportions to Russia, which is accused of meddling in the 2016 presidential elections to help Trump win.
Former defense secretary Jim Mattis was a staunch proponent of NATO and repeatedly visited its Brussels headquarters, where he sought to reassure allies about America’s commitment to the alliance.
But Mattis quit last month, and observers see a shrinking coterie of advisers around Trump willing to push back against him.
The US Congress, including Trump’s own Republican Party, would likely push back against any effort to withdraw from NATO.
The only country to have ever invoke Article 5, NATO’s collective defense principle, was America following the September 11, 2001 attacks.