President Tsai Ing-wen says a military exercise at the naval base in Suao on Taiwan’s northeast coast is not aimed at competing with China.
Tsai was speaking Friday morning after boarding a Kidd-class destroyer to oversee the drill. This is the first time that the president has boarded a navy ship to supervise an exercise since taking office in May 2016.
The president said the port defense drill demonstrated Taiwan’s military capability in the air, at sea, underwater and on the ground, using self-defense and multilayer deterrence tactics.
On Thursday, China held its largest ever maritime drill in the disputed South China Sea. Tsai rejected media speculation that Taiwan’s port drill sought to compete with China.
“That interpretation goes too far. There is no competition. [I am here] today to oversee our military preparedness. The review is not a one-off; it’s the beginning of a series of military reviews. Reviews will be arranged in the future at an appropriate time to oversee our military performance," said Tsai.
Tsai also said her upcoming trip to Taiwan’s diplomatic ally Swaziland next Tuesday will not be affected by China’s live-fire drill a day later. Tsai said she has confidence in the military who called the Chinese drill a routine mission.