Military lays out drill plan for 2019

TAIPEI (CNA) – Taiwan military on Wednesday made public its annual major drill plans for 2019 to boost its combat readiness a week after Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) reasserted China’s right to use force against Taiwan.

Maj. Gen. Yeh Kuo-hui (葉國輝), chief of the Ministry of National Defense’s Operations and Planning Division, said the annual plan is divided into four major parts.

It will begin with a month of combat readiness training in the first quarter; another month-long Han Kuang (漢光) live-fire military exercise in the second quarter; the holding of joint anti-landing operations in the third quarter and a joint anti-airborne exercise in the final quarter of 2019, Yeh said.

He did not give an exact timetable for the plan, however.

Yeh said the drills and training routines to be used are being drafted based on newly adopted tactics for defending against a possible Chinese invasion.

In recent decades, Taiwan’s Armed Forces have made beaches where enemy forces land the focal point in repelling a potential Chinese invasion, but that emphasis has now been broadened to an outer perimeter along coastal areas since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office in May 2016.

The Armed Forces’ drill plan for 2019 was announced a week after Xi renewed his warning on Jan. 2 during his address in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of China’s “Message to Compatriots in Taiwan.” In his speech, Xi said that China is willing to talk with any party in Taiwan to push forward the process of peaceful unification on the basis of the “one China principle.” However, “we make no promise to renounce the use of force and reserve the option of taking all necessary means” to serve the end, Xi said.

Asked to comment on Xi’s threat, military spokesman Chen Chung-chi (陳中吉) stressed that the training and drills being conducted by Taiwan’s military are intended as preparations to counter a possible invasion.

“We want to assure citizens that the military is constantly beefing up its combat preparedness and stands ready to fight for the survival of the Republic of China (Taiwan),” he said.

By Joseph Yeh