China's upcoming PLA drill a routine exercise: Taiwan MND

Drills are 'nothing more than routine exercises,' public should not panic says Ministry of National Defense

China's upcoming PLA drill a routine exercise: Taiwan MND

(Wikimedia Commons photo)

TAIPEI (CNA) -- The Ministry of National Defense (MND) downplayed on Sunday an upcoming Chinese military exercise near Taiwan amid speculation it is meant to send a message after the United States recently agreed to sell weapons to Taiwan.

Taiwan's MND said the live-fire exercises announced by China will be part of the People's Liberation Army's (PLA's) annual drills and described them as "nothing more than routine exercises."

The ministry assured Taiwan's citizens that it had a complete picture of all PLA military maneuvers and exercises in the region and would be in position to respond effectively and accordingly to defend the country should the need arise.

China's defense ministry announced earlier Sunday on its website that it will soon conduct a round of live-fire exercises in waters and airspace around its southeastern coastal areas.

Lu Li-shih (呂禮詩), a former captain of the ROC Navy corvette Xinjiang, said on his Facebook page that the Chinese announcement was significant because the PLA rarely announces a drill beforehand, preferring instead to do so after a drill has been completed.

Other military experts saw the upcoming drill as a warning after Washington granted a US$2.22 billion arms sale package to Taiwan last week, the biggest and most substantive package of weapons since President Donald Trump assumed office in 2017.

The package includes 108 M1A2T Abrams Tanks and relevant equipment and support, 250 Block I-92F MANPAD Stinger missiles, and four Block I-92 MANPAD Stinger Fly-to-Buy missiles and related equipment.